Construction Package 1, the first significant construction contract executed in the California high-speed rail project in Fresno County, may never get used. Several major missteps south of Fresno County violate Proposition 1A, exposing the California High-Speed Rail Authority to litigation and injunctions.
Fresno County residents should be acutely concerned about a settlement agreement between the High-Speed Rail Authority and the City of Bakersfield, which stipulates that the authority will consider an alternative route from the BNSF right-of-way, across prime farmland, to the Union Pacific right-of-way in north Kern County.
Proposition 1A states, “In order to reduce impacts on communities and the environment, the alignment for the high-speed train system shall follow existing transportation or utility corridors to the extent feasible and shall be financially viable.”
The willingness of the California High-Speed Rail Authority to even consider a route that cuts across prime farmland reflects either a gross oversight or a clear disregard for California voters. If the High-Speed Rail Authority is to maintain compliance with Proposition 1A, it must stop entertaining routes that depart existing rail and utility corridors. If the project fails because of 1A violations, all the homes and businesses taken will have been for nothing.
Adam Cohen, Sacramento