CHSRA Board Adopts Hanford East Alignment
At yesterday’s meeting the California High Speed Rail Authority board formally adopted the staff recommendation for the Fresno to Bakersfield alignment, including the Hanford East route:
The preferred alternative of the Fresno-to-Bakersfield section of the rail is a reversal of the authority’s previous choice of a route running west of the city to appease property owners closer to Highway 99.
Today’s decision by eight members of the board has the rail moving south after Fresno before it veers east north of Hanford, just passing the city with a station along Highway 198 and 43.
The route, which follows some portions of the Burlington North Santa Fe rail line, also bypasses both Corcoran and Allensworth on the east.
As it turned out, property owners west of Hanford weren’t happy with that proposed alignment, and Kings County political leaders have chosen to sue to block the project entirely. So it made sense for the CHSRA to go back to the Hanford East alignment, which does a better job of serving the Visalia area as well. And Visalia leaders are gung ho for high speed rail, rightly so. A downtown Hanford station would have been even better than a greenfield station, but Hanford apparently does not want to embrace the benefits that HSR will bring to their community.
Speaking of the Kings County lawsuit, a follow up hearing was held in front of Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Kenny today. Kenny had ruled against the CHSRA in the Kings County suit, but did not appear inclined to order a halt to the project. Today’s hearing was to determine what remedy Judge Kenny would order as a result of his earlier ruling. Judge Kenny did not make a ruling from the bench and reporters weren’t able to discern what his intentions were. From past experience, however, I would be surprised if he called a halt to construction.