Bullet train threatens Central Valley

October 24, 2011

The planners behind the controversial California bullet train seem to be complicating matters with their new route—right through historic Bakersfield High School, where rail opponent Cong. Kevin McCarthy just happens to have two children enrolled. [LATimes]

The train’s proposed routes are taking aim at the campus, first opened in 1893, potentially putting a bulls-eye on the Industrial Arts Building, where future engineers, ceramic artists, auto mechanics, fabric designers and wood-workers take classes. Even though freight trains already lumber not far from the campus, these elevated trains could rocket by on a viaduct at up to 220 mph every five minutes, eye level with the school library and deafening the stately outdoor commons where students congregate between classes.

The California High Speed Rail Authority, the agency trying to build the bullet train, couldn’t have found a more politically sensitive target. The school is where House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield), one of the project’s staunchest opponents in Congress, sends his children. McCarthy also currently represents much of northern San Luis Obispo County.

Critics say such blunders are routine for the rail authority. Across the length of the Central Valley, the bullet train as drawn would destroy churches, schools, private homes, shelters for low-income people, animal processing plants, warehouses, banks, medical offices, auto parts stores, factories, farm fields, mobile home parks, apartment buildings and much else as it cuts through the richest agricultural belt in the nation and through some of the most depressed cities in California.

The potential economic, cultural and political damage may be an omen. The Central Valley, where construction could start next year, is expected to be the politically easiest and lowest-cost segment of the system, designed to move millions of passengers between Southern California and the Bay Area.

For years the train’s path was somewhat vague, but in August the authority released 70,000 pages of environmental impact reports that detail potential routes through the Central Valley.

Authority officials say they have made every effort to work with people who could be displaced in order to minimize its effects. Rail authority chairman Tom Umberg says a high-speed rail will improve the quality of life in California, not reduce it. Proponents say the benefits are overwhelmingly positive.

Almost every city and county along the proposed route loses something, but none more than Bakersfield. More than 228 homes and more than a half dozen churches would be taken, many of them in low-income minority communities on the city’s east side. The rail authority’s plans have both homeowners and government agencies confused.

In formal comments submitted this month to the authority, Bakersfield officials called the plans “ambiguous and unstable.” What’s more, the authority was being “clearly unreasonable” in initially allowing only two months for the city to review the plans.




  1. r0y says:

    Back before Obama hurt Vegas, we might have been convinced that a bullet train from L.A. to Vegas would pan out, as sinners love to sin – and what better place than Sin City?!

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    • Typoqueen says:

      Right, you might be convinced bla bla bla, you are so funny. Don’t tell porkies now r0y, it doesn’t look good, just be honest. You know deep inside that you would never ever ever be convinced or go along with ANYTHING that Obama suggests. As a famous lib said, if Obama endorsed motherhood you find a problem with it. Your people have vowed from day one to oppose him and that’s exactly what you are doing. Right, you’re not endorsing this train to Vegas because of slip of the tongue by Obama,,LOL sure that’s the ticket.

      (-1) 1 Total Votes - 0 up - 1 down
  2. oto says:

    Which brings me to “water banking.” Seems like “water banking” is where you put your “excess water” based on a contractual agreement to get the same quantity and quality of water back, the next time you need it. This requires a contract based upon material terms and conditions that are not definite until some future event occurs at a future date. I don’t get it. The only thing I get is that Bakersfield is the largest “water bank” in the state.

    What does “water banking” have to do with high-speed rail systems in Bakersfield? I dunno.’ I musta’ been snoozin’….Move over, Harry….

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  3. oto says:

    Hey, Harry Belefonte wasn’t snoozing after all! He was just counting sheep and waiting for a fast train outta’ there!

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  4. Ugluk says:

    The bullet train threatens my pocketbook as well. Why does this state do insane stuff like this?

    (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
    • r0y says:


      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
      • Typoqueen says:

        From Websters:

        “a political philosophy based on belief in progress, the essential goodness of the human race, and the autonomy of the individual and standing for the protection of political and civil liberties; specifically : such a philosophy that considers government as a crucial instrument for amelioration of social inequities (as those involving race, gender, or class)”

        You type ‘Liberalism’ like it’s a bad word. I’m proud to have that title but I can see why you don’t like libs, it goes against the con philosophy. “Progress, protection of political and civil liberties” yeah that’s definitely not the con way.

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  5. SLORider says:

    Bullet train to the head. Thanks, CA voters. It will never be built and will still cost billions, all pocketed by the HSRA and friends.

    (17) 21 Total Votes - 19 up - 2 down
    • easymoney says:

      Like most things in CA it will cost billions more than anywhere else in the world…
      The idea is great and works well in places like mainland Europe and Japan, where the bulk of the population lives in or next to the major cities and everyone take the public transpiration for all local travel every day.
      Here in CA, we are one of the biggest states in the union, and most major cities along the coast (where the majority of the population lives) are separated by hundreds of miles of agricultural land (with no local commuters or stops). The cost will be astronomical and will only be used by a few long distance commuters, LA-SF or SF or LA – SAC . Most citizens will never use it, simply because it will never come anywhere near them and go only to a few locations not connected to their areas.
      All this happy face talk is pure BS and political to boot and it is always predictable in election years…

      (3) 7 Total Votes - 5 up - 2 down
    • gomeztogo says:

      As much as the liberal-optimist me thinks this is great, and long overdue…the conservative-pragmatic me agrees that this is just a boondoggle for all the impact report vultures. aka lawyers and think tanks.

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  6. Typoqueen says:

    The irony of this train planned to go through McCarthy’s kids school is just too funny. Better yet have the train run right next to front door.

    On a different note is there really anything worth saving in Bakersfield? Guess I don’t go there enough. When I am forced to go to Bakersfield the only thing I want to do is leave. Do people make that a vacation destination, do people like living there?

    (-7) 29 Total Votes - 11 up - 18 down
    • srichison says:

      Guess you don’t go there enough. Let’s make sure we do the Bakersfield route – after all, it only displaces low-income minorities in East Bakersfield who have no other place to go. Definitely keep it over there so it doesn’t come to your back yard.

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      • Typoqueen says:

        The only thing that remember about Bakersfield other than driving though it on hwy 99 is that once traveling through there when my parents car broke down. While waiting for help my dad ran to a close by store and bought some eggs to show us that you could cook an egg on the road (we were bored). It was hot and miserable so I’ve never had a desire to go back.

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  7. shelworth says:

    I get the feeling the powers-that-be don’t really care if this gets built or not, they just want the money and power they get from “studying” it. How much does “70,000 pages of environmental impact reports” cost? One million a page? 10?

    (25) 31 Total Votes - 28 up - 3 down

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