New alignment proposal for high-speed rail train

Marcus Castro, Editor in Chief

A meeting in regards to the California High-Speed Rail was held in Bakersfield to propose and discuss the new alignment for the rail.

“We all have our own opinion on the high-speed rail and whether it should be built. Regardless of those views, we must prepare for the project and develop the best route through the city,” said Bakersfield City Manager Alan Tandy.

This meeting was the first of two, and it had an outcome of around 300 people. It was held at the downtown Marriot on Aug. 25.

The City of Bakersfield has had problems with the bullet train in the past, but Tandy put those issues aside in order to show cooperation with the CHSRA in proposing the new alignment.

“It’s straighter. It’s shorter. It is lower in terms of average profile. It allows higher speeds for the trains, thus allowing for an improved schedule… there are fewer impacts on major community assets,” said Tandy.

The new route being proposed would be around 6.5 miles shorter. It would have a station downtown at F Street and Golden State Avenue, but before that it would enter the town near 7th Standard Road and Coffee Road.

“We are impacting a lot less people… there were over 500 properties that were going to be affected and now it’s around 200,” said Central Valley Regional Director, Diana Gomez. About half of those 500-plus properties are residential.

The location for the new station is said to need economic stimulus and the idea is that the station will provide it.

The CHSRA is under new management with the new CEO Jeff Morales.

“Since Mr. Morales has taken over as CEO of the authority, they have been cooperative partners in nature with a problem solving spirit that did not exist prior to this point,” said Tandy.

Studies, such as economic development and visual impacts, on the new alignment have begun and will continue as time goes on.

Morales spoke about the reasons why the bullet train makes sense. “We need to continue to invest in ourselves [California] in order to stay productive. It’s about connecting the state in a way that it never has been before,” said Morales.

The second free open-house meeting will be held at the Bakersfield Downtown Marriot at the Convention Center from 4-7 p.m. on Oct. 21.

Another open-house meeting for the alignment’s path through Shafter will be held in Shafter from 4-7 p.m. on Sept. 17 at the Shafter Veterans Hall, 309 California Ave.