The California High Speed Rail Authority (Authority) convened last Thursday, April 7 at Fresno City Hall to discuss the high-speed rail project’s (Project) alternative routes in the Central Valley.Project planners presented a recommendation for the Fresno-to-Bakersfield route that will follow the BNSF Railway track until it heads west to Hanford and passes through Corcoran, Allensworth, Wasco, and Shafter, eventually entering Bakersfield from the west. The Authority also discussed four options for a Y-shaped junction in the Chowchilla area in Madera County where the high speed rail will proceed north to Sacramento and west to the San Francisco Bay Area.
Many of Fresno’s citizens have fiercely opposed the Project and argued that the proposed alternative will negatively impact California’s prime farmland. Thursday’s meeting was no exception: the five-hour meeting devoted two hours to public comments.
The final environmental impact for the Fresno-to-Bakersfield route is expected to be published in October 2013, at which time the route will be set. This will require the Authority to gain rights-of-ways from landowners along the route and trigger eminent domain proceedings that will affect landowners’ rights to their property.