High-speed Rail

Tuesday, Aug 20 2013 05:02 PM

Downtown Business Association supports downtown bullet train station

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    By California High Speed Rail Authority

    An artist's conception of the bullet train.

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BY THEO DOUGLAS Californian staff writer tdouglas@bakersfield.com

Downtown Business Association officials said Tuesday that they will speak to the Bakersfield City Council at its Sept. 11 meeting in support of a high-speed rail station in downtown.

The group's position is based on a recent anonymous e-mail poll of about 300 of its nearly 400 members. Sixty-three percent of the 67 members who responded, or 42 members, indicated that a downtown station would be a boon to business.

Twenty-four percent of members surveyed, or 16 out of 66 members responding, said they would ride the so-called "bullet train" at least 12 times a year.

Forty-five percent of members, or 28 of 62 members responding, said they would ride the train primarily for business.

"They are not necessarily for or against high-speed rail in and of itself, but they are for a high-speed rail station in downtown Bakersfield. A station in Taft or Wasco is just going to drive business out of town," said Jeff Hayward, DBA chairman.

City officials said they welcome the input.

"We look forward to hearing their viewpoints on that. I think the approach we're taking is to request more time to evaluate the best option through Bakersfield, including the best location for a station," said Steven Teglia, assistant to City Manager Alan Tandy.

High-speed rail officials said they will try to accommodate concerns as they seek funding and secure environmental clearance for the train.

"We have been working closely with the city to figure out what would be best ... and ensure that wherever the station ends up, it's exactly what's best for the city," said Diana Gomez, Central Valley regional director of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

Currently, California's $68.5 billion high-speed rail plan doesn't have enough money to chug all the way into downtown Bakersfield. City officials have urged the HSRA not to designate a specific rail route because they fear it will cause nearby property values to plummet, years before local rails are laid.

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