California's High-Speed Rail Begins in Fresno

Dec 02, 2010, 23:12 ET from

FRESNO, Calif., Dec. 2, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- The California High-Speed Rail Authority has picked the area where the first segment of California's and the nation's first high-speed rail track will be constructed.

The 65-mile portion of track, with a price tag of $4.15 billion, will stretch from just north of Fresno and continue north of Bakersfield, passing straight through Fresno.  It is just the start of an 800-mile high-speed rail project that will ultimately connect San Diego to San Francisco, and with trains running up to 220 miles per hour will revolutionize transportation as we know it.

"No trains will run on this first segment," said Steve Geil, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation serving Fresno County.  "This is just putting the shovel in the ground, getting it started, with the funds allocated to California High-Speed Rail Authority."

Two new stations will be constructed along the track, one in downtown Fresno and the other near Hanford.  The new track will be aligned with existing tracks.  The entire Central Valley portion of the high-speed rail project, from Merced to Bakersfield, will generate 135,000 much-needed full-time construction jobs.  Yet to be chosen is the site for the 800-mile system's heavy maintenance facility, which could be located in Fresno County and would bring an additional 1,500 well-paying jobs.

"The Authority Board's courageous decision today will create major economic stimulus for Fresno County," Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea said. "Not only will we will see thousands of jobs for Fresno County residents, but we'll also see Fresno County position itself as the nation's high-speed rail development center."

"Now it's time for everybody to come together, north and south, Stockton to Bakersfield, and make a concerted effort to get the funds it will take to connect Merced to Bakersfield," Geil added.

California High-Speed Rail Authority Vice Chair Tom Umberg said the Authority chose the right option that would best use available funds.

"We are building a statewide system," he said.  "We're in the business of connecting major metropolitan centers across our state, and we won't have a true high-speed rail system until we tie every part of this state together.  It's not one town or one region versus another, it's about connecting one region to another."

To contact Supervisor Perea, call (559) 287-0860.  Steve Geil may be reached at