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Grumbles Heard in Central Valley Over Bullet Train

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The California High-Speed Rail recently received lots of federal money to get work started on the bullet train in the Central Valley. That area was chosen because it was not only cheaper than the SoCal and NorCal legs, but community opposition was less intense. The Los Angeles Times took a trip up to where the first constructed section would traverse--from north of Fresno to near Bakersfield--and found some unhappiness over the train there, too, especially among farmers who worry their crops are imperiled. "You're basically naming [agricultural] land as the path of least resistance," Diana Peck, executive director of the Kings County Farm Bureau, told the Times. "We are not going to stand for that." Officials in Hanford in Kings County, where a station is planned, say the benefits outweigh the drawbacks; the area has 30-40 percent unemployment. Places like this depressed city, which developed when the Southern Pacific railroad set up a depot there in 1887, would also benefit by being linked to the universities and hospitals in LA and San Francisco, the mayor of Visalia says. The one thing most everyone seems to want in their backyard is the bullet train maintenance yard, which would bring 1,500 permanent jobs--kind of ironic since LA transit projects often struggle with finding a place to locate those facilities because of perceived noise and pollution. 19th-century Hanford train station image from kla4067 via Flickr
· Central Valley Farmers Take Issue With High-Speed Route [LA Times]