Image of Pacheco Pass Section of proposed High Speed Rail. Photo courtesy High Speed Rail Authority.

California’s High Speed Rail project pops up in the news from Washington, D.C. to Southern California. Despite continued objections, the process moves forward with a public meeting scheduled this week in Madera, California to provide information on the first section of the state’s high speed rail project.

The meeting will be held at Madera Community College, June 17 from 5-7 p.m. (See meeting info.) Last week, meetings were held in Southern California near Acton, where members of the public aired their concerns about the controversial project’s affect on their community. 

An announcement about the upcoming Madera meeting on the California High Speed Rail Website states, “Purpose of Meeting: Provide information on elements of the project in Madera, including design, right of way, small business and employment opportunities.” The High Speed Rail Authority expects to get public feedback, go over the design and schedule and be available to answer questions.

Meanwhile, Representative Jeff Denham, R-Calif, who has opposed federal funding for the project, pushed a measure through the House of Representatives last week that could derail the agreement between the California High Speed Rail Authority and the Federal Railroad Administration. The measure would require the state to honor the original agreement to equally match federal funds. The state did not hold to the required match and the federal government changed the contract to continue paying for the project. 

Denham was quoted as saying, “This amendment will finally hold California high-speed rail accountable for its finances.” 

Senator Barbara Boxer, D-Calif was unhappy with the measure, stating, “It’s sad that a California congressman would block our state from receiving federal funds that would help our economy.”

A more extensive article about this ran in the Sacramento Bee.  The High Speed Rail Authority continues to schedule meetings and operate with confidence that the project will continue on track. 

According to the High Speed Rail website, “The California High-Speed Rail Authority is responsible for planning, designing, building and operation of the first high-speed rail system in the nation. California high-speed rail will connect the mega-regions of the state, contribute to economic development and a cleaner environment, create jobs and preserve agricultural and protected lands.” Although the controversial plan is still being challenged, plans are moving forward on the project. The site states, somewhat optimistically, “By 2029, the system will run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours at speeds capable of over 200 miles per hour. The system will eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego, totaling 800 miles with up to 24 stations. In addition, the Authority is working with regional partners to implement a state-wide rail modernization plan that will invest billions of dollars in local and regional rail lines to meet the state’s 21st Century transportation needs.”

Gilroy’s Mayor Don Gage was interviewed recently by KSBW and expressed support for the project. Gilroy may be the only Central Coast city to have a High Speed Rail stop. The report states that the route will travel from San Diego to San Francisco, crossing from the Central Valley through Pacheco Pass and stopping at the current Gilroy Train Station. An Internet article about the rail plan and recent Southern California community response can be seen on the KSBW website.