Bakersfield High Speed Rail F St station
BY KENT KUEHL kkuehl@bakersfield.com

Work continues on development plans for a high-speed rail station downtown and for the surrounding area in general, with drafts due this summer and final versions expected in the fall, the Bakersfield City Council heard Wednesday.

What’s underway are environmental reviews and vision plans for the station — with the “preferred” site near F Street and Golden State Avenue — and an area generally bordered by the Kern River and 38th Street to the north, California Avenue to the south, Union Avenue to the east, and F Street to the west.

A lot of work involving the city, consultants and community members has been done — and you can track it at www.makingdowntownbakersfield.us. But some of the highlights: consultants have looked at rail stations internationally (including France and Spain) and domestically (Denver and Visalia) for ideas for ours; identified lots downtown that are ready for development; eyed Wall Street Alley as an opportunity to create a “paseo”; and looked at how an F Street station could be linked to other downtown amenities.

An economic analysis has shown, not surprisingly, that demand for office space, housing, retail and hotels would grow exponentially with high-speed rail coming through town, Kitchen said.

The biggest lesson learned?

“The best way to capitalize on this growth is to get downtown ready for it,” Kitchen told the council.

She outlined three stages of the development strategy:

• A 0- to 10-year strategy of getting downtown ready for the bullet train;

• A 10- to 20-year strategy of strengthening the “spine” of downtown, namely the Chester Avenue corridor;

• And a 20- to 30-year strategy of redeveloping the area north of Kern Pioneer Village.

A draft environmental impact report on the plan is expected this summer; final EIR hearings and the final vision plan are anticipated in the fall.

The next community meeting is scheduled for March 30. For more information, call 326-3788.

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