Tulare County Still Wants High Speed Rail
Kings County leaders may have decided they’re happy with a 14.6% unemployment rate, opposing high speed rail and the long-term economic benefits it will bring to their county. But next door in Tulare County, leaders understand the benefits that high speed rail will bring – and they want in:
Watching their neighbor’s increasingly warlike stance, Tulare County, which strongly supports the project, has been looking for a way to insure the fast growing population in the two county region — nearing 1 million by 2030 — has a station. So instead of partnering up with Kings County as had been planned, they have decided to go it alone.
The city of Visalia will take up the idea at its Dec. 21 council meeting, Olmos said. “Now that we know they will be building the first leg of the route right here, we understand that it has moved up our chances to get a station. We’ve been told that if we want a station we need to apply fairly quickly.”
With the clock ticking on funding, Visalia and TCAG will jointly apply to do a $800,000 planning study they note will serve a regional population that includes both Kings and Tulare counties, with Tulare’s population three times that of Kings.
Visalia understands that not being involved in the HSR project – and especially not having a station – means that job growth and new economic activity will quite literally pass them by:
Without a station, scores of daily 200 mph trains could barrel through Kings County, but none of them would stop — just what Visalia, and the bypassed towns of the earlier rail era — feared.
It’s good to see that Visalia and Tulare County get why HSR is such a good idea and are fighting to bring it to their community. As the gateway to Sequoia and Kings Canyon parks, Visalia is poised to get tourists from across the state more easily with high speed rail. And with a downtown that has affordable land available, located just over an hour via HSR from downtown LA, Visalia could attract businesses and skilled workers as other mid-line cities on European HSR lines have been able to do.
Hanford and Kings County may be willing to spend the rest of the 21st century watching Visalia and Tulare County take the jobs and business growth that they rejected. At least the rest of the San Joaquin Valley knows better.