HANFORD -- Kings County supervisors want officials in neighboring Tulare County to back off plans to seek money from the California High-Speed Rail Authority for station planning.
The Tulare County Association of Governments -- a transportation planning body -- voted earlier this month to seek $500,000 in state and federal funds.
"I wonder how you would like it if we came to Visalia and Tulare and supported something you opposed?" Supervisor Doug Verboon told Visalia City Council members Monday as the council considered a joint application for the money. "We don't come over to your community and make you do things you don't want to do."
Kings County supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to ask Tulare County transportation planners not to request the high-speed rail money.
The bullet train, which will go through Kings County, is controversial here. The county supervisors rescinded their support in October, citing impacts on agriculture and poor cooperation from rail officials, and are suing the California High Speed Rail Authority to try to stop the project.
The supervisors' ruffled feathers got some smoothing Tuesday when Tulare County Supervisor Pete Vander Poel journeyed to Hanford to say that the Tulare County Association of Governments -- which he chairs -- would put off requesting station planning money until officials from the two counties, including Visalia officials, can meet in early January to talk things over.
"We're not trying to throw you under the bus," Vander Poel said.
He spoke one day after the Visalia City Council, responding to complaints by Verboon and others, postponed until mid-January a vote to join the Tulare County Association of Governments grant application.
But Visalia assistant city manager Mike Olmos said station planning would mostly focus on how people in Tulare County would get to a Kings County high-speed train station. Because Kings County passed on seeking the money, Visalia worried that the region could lose out if no one else applied, he said.
The rail authority wants to work with local counties on planning for a station that will meet the needs of the region, California High-Speed Rail Authority spokeswoman Rachel Wall said.
Visalia Council Member Bob Link, who also came to Hanford on Tuesday, said the city supports a regional station because "1 million people will be living in Tulare and Kings counties by the year 2030" and they would want to use it.
Visalia, long a supporter of high-speed rail, favors moving the rail to a Highway 99 alignment instead of going through Kings County and would welcome help from Kings County in getting the rail authority to reconsider the route, he said.
Verboon and Supervisor Richard Valle said they would support a Highway 99 alignment, but Kings County administrative officer Larry Spikes said the route is unlikely to be changed.
"The horse left the barn on that," Spikes said.
The reporter can be reached at email@example.com
or (559) 622-2416.