High-speed Rail

Friday, Jul 20 2012 05:32 PM

Rubio wants delay on choice of high-speed rail routes through Bakersfield

BY JOHN COX Californian staff writer jcox@bakersfield.com

State Sen. Michael Rubio, reinjecting himself Friday into the deliberations over California High-Speed Rail, urged the project's leadership to delay a decision on how and where the proposed bullet train will pass through Bakersfield.

The Shafter Democrat said in a news release that a delay would provide "more time to select an alternative route and minimize direct impacts to residents, businesses and agriculture within the community."

Last month, Rubio asked the California High-Speed Rail Authority to route the project south of Bakersfield. Last year, he proposed that the alignment follow Highway 99 to spare farmland, homes and businesses.

Neither suggestion showed up in the project's Fresno to Bakersfield revised draft environmental review released Monday. Instead, the document considers three possible routes for crossing through the city, including a new "hybrid" alignment.

The draft review's 60-day public comment period began formally on Friday.

The new head of the Kern Council of Governments, which has monitored the project closely, agreed with Rubio, in part, on Friday.

"I don't know if it needs to be delayed. It needs to be discussed further," Executive Director Ahron Hakimi said, adding that such a discussion may take time.

Construction is planned to begin in the Central Valley later this year on the roughly $69 billion project. It is proposed to run trains as fast as 220 mph between Anaheim and San Francisco by 2035.

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