CA high-speed rail: Valley residents speak on negative impacts

It’s a way to connect from Los Angeles to the bay, but what about everything else in between?

The High-Speed Rail project in California has affected many people in the Central Valley. The project has had an impact on many Californians who live in the Central Valley, but not in a positive way. Those who have been affected by the project include families. Farmers and tax paying citizens.

Many Central Valley residents have opposed the project ever since it was first mentioned. There have been many different obstacles and downsides to the project, and it will only get worse. The rail project has exceeded the initial budget of $4 billion, with costs now estimating between $62 billion and $98 billion. Not only have costs gone up, but the size of the project has gone down. It was initially projected to connect from LA to the bay area. However, it has been decreased to connect from Bakersfield to Modesto.

Construction on the project has only taken place for the most part in the Central Valley, which has hit hard at many different angles due to the project. Citizens in the valley have been devastated by the rail project. Some of those residents being farmers and people in agriculture.

One person who has been affected by the project is Louie Oliviera.

When asked about how his family and he have been impacted by the project, said Oliviera, “We used to have a ranch where we farmed walnuts, but it was purchased by the state for the high speed rail project.”

Oliviera’s farm operations have been decreased to his home ranch. Where he once had well over 100 acres it now has been minimized to approximately 25 acres.

“It was hard to give up the land after years of hard work,” said Oliviera.

Oliviera is one of many who have lost land, as well as valuable property, to the project. “It’s hard to see all the farms that have been destroyed by the high speed rail,” Oliviera said. “As I work in agriculture and am at many different fields across the Valley all the time, it’s sad to see what has happened to these farms that have been bought out,” said Oliviera.

Jerry Fagundes was another person who had to sell his property to the state for the rail project. He had built his dream home in the Central Valley on the outskirts of Hanford.

When asked about how him and his family have been affected by the rail Fagundes said, “We had built our dream home with no plans of moving out. We built it to resemble a log cabin, it was everything we had dreamt it would be.”  

The house was raised to the ground and Fagundes said, “We fought and fought against the High-Speed Rail in order to keep our home, but sadly it wasn’t enough.”

He has harsh words for Brian P. Kelly, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.

“I think he is a crook,”  Fagundes said.

The Fagundes families’ story is just one of many who have been impacted by the High-Speed Rail.

“We are some of many in the Valley that oppose the High-Speed Rail. It is not a necessary type of transportation,” said Fagundes. “There are many different transportation options that already exist, which require a lot less money that could be used for better resources.”

The result is low morale in many farm families.

Farms across Fresno County, Kings County and Tulare County have been hit the hardest from the project. With the route of the rail now only going from Modesto to Bakersfield, it doesn’t make sense since the Amtrak train already exists in these cities.

The high speed rail project has faced many obstacles and difficulties in its approximately 10 year history, as it is still in the beginning stages. Construction for the rail has been going on for a few years, but not much has been accomplished. The high speed rail has caused many taxes and frustration to not only the residents of the Central Valley, but to other Californians as well.

Taxes are constantly being increased in order to fund the extreme costs of the project. Overall, the High-Speed Rail project has had a very large impact on the Central Valley, and not much support has been seen within. Families and farms are being forced to sell their property in order to fulfill a fantasy that will never be finished.

Tags: California, Central Valley, high speed rail, bay area, los angles

Caption: Construction continues for California’s High-Speed Rail project in the Central Valley. (Courtesy Los Angeles Times)

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