The CHSRA is taking their scoping meetings to the southern end of the San Joaquin Valley this week, including a stop in Bakersfield:
As a structural engineer, longtime Bakersfield resident Ed Creswell is thrilled that America's first bullet trains will fly right through his city's downtown district.
"It's a great project," he said. "And I'm excited for our community."
But for Ed, his wife Judy and some of their neighbors there's also a downside: The 220-mph electric rail line is being routed right through his Rosedale-area neighborhood on an elevated track 30- to 40-feet off the ground. And that will affect property values and the quality of life in their horse-friendly tract.
"A lot of families have been out there 35 to 40 years or more," Creswell said. "They're not really anxious to move."
The article doesn't tell us what the Creswells came away from the meeting thinking about the HSR project. Obviously there are residents in Bakersfield who, as in Santa Fe Springs and Palo Alto, to name just a few cities, are wondering how to strike a balance between their desire for HSR and their concerns about how it will impact their communities. I am sure there will be some NIMBYs reading this saying "HA! See, it's not just us folks that are upset about this" - but that would be missing the point of a Bakersfield newspaper's anecdote of ONE homeowner who doesn't seem to be espousing any NIMBY ideas at all.
The rest of the article does a pretty poor job of informing readers about the route and the outstanding decisions left to be made. It does include this colorful quote from CHSRA regional director Carrie Bowen:
While there will be some noise associated with these rolling bullets, there will be no rattling, no clackety-clack of rail noise -- and the on-board ride will be so smooth, you won't spill your beer while walking back to your seat, Bowen said.
All I know is that on the first SF to Anaheim trip circa 2020 - and I fully intend to be on that first train - I'm going to have so much champagne I don't know if I will even be able to stand.
The Bakersfield Californian also had an interesting op-ed from Danny Gilmore, a Republican member of the CA Assembly (who won his seat last November in an extremely close and contentious race). Gilmore expresses strong support for HSR:
Moreover, as California and the state both grapple with a struggling economy, it is important to respond to the areas of greatest need when opportunities for employing our workforce exist. The Central Valley has the highest unemployment rates in the state with areas experiencing a staggering 40 percent of people without jobs. These are not the unwilling or unfit to work, these are former farm workers, mechanics, construction workers and others who have the skills, ability and desire to work.
The Depression-era reality for many rural communities of the Central Valley showcases the greatest need for new jobs that will help buttress the state and local economy as well as put people back to work.
The Central Valley has experienced hardships unlike anywhere else in the state. Restrictions on water to our farms, a crippled dairy economy and the ripple effect of high unemployment and businesses closing their doors have made the Central Valley the epicenter of this recession. When you pair the logic of starting this project, with the Bakersfield to Merced corridor, and the great need for such a project in these areas, the choice to do so in the Central Valley is a clear win-win.
I urge the Federal Rail Authority to award funding to the Bakersfield to Merced corridor as the best option for bringing high-speed rail to fruition in California. I hope that they also see that the intent of this funding is to address the need for good jobs in areas that are struggling to survive.
Kudos to Gilmore for understanding what too few of his fellow Republicans grasp: that federal spending is absolutely necessary to deal with this severe recession, and that HSR is as good a project as any to deliver those jobs.
CHSRA is hosting two more scoping meetings for the Bakersfield-Palmdale segment:
September 16, 3:00-7:00 p.m.
Stallion Springs Community Center
27850 Stallion Springs Dr.
Tehachapi, CA 93561
September 17, 3:00-7:00 p.m.
Chimbole Cultural Center
38350 Sierra Highway
Palmdale, CA 93550