The High Speed Rail Project is going to be completed. Not only is it going to be built, it is going to do everything they have promised. The system will have great ridership and pay for itself. It is going to have all of the economic impacts to Bakersfield that have been presented in many workshops that have been conducted over the last two years.

In case you didn't attend one of these workshops, let me fill you in on what they said. By the way, over 99 percent of the residents of Bakersfield and Kern County would fall in the "did not attend" group.

The new station for Bakersfield will have impacts on housing, commerce, infastructure needs, traffic, and population. Many of the residents of Bakersfield will work down south or up north. The low cost of housing here will off set the expense of the daily commute on the bullet train.

The station will be surrounded by high rise apartments, condominiums, and businesses. Some of these businesses will be transplants from other parts of the state. The station will be state of the art and resemble the ones in major cities of Europe and Japan. The station will be the center of activity and create an economic boom for businesses that are a reasonable distance from it. It will be imperative that the roads into the station are capable of handling the volume of traffic and there will be simple paths into this station.

Now back to reality. The reason so few people are interested in attending the meetings is either because they don't think HSR will ever get built, are against it being built, or think it is too far into the future (20-30 years) for anyone to care about it. Unfortunately that means we are leaving the decision and responsibility to choose the station's location to a group of people who have their own agenda. Please note: The location have everything to do with what we are getting.

There are two choices for our station. It will go either at F Street and Golden State Highway where the Rancho Motel once was or between Truxtun Avenue and California Avenue by the Rabobank and Amtrak station. Support for the station location is being driven by the cty manager's office. They want it at F Street and Golden State. If all things were equal, I could argue the merits of each on the infrastructure requirements. The Truxtun location already has streets and roads into it from every direction that are reasonable and simple. The F Street location requires a maze of streets and highways that would need to be altered or built and there would be no simple approach to the station.

All things are not equal, the two stations are vastly different. I originally thought when the city manager's office came up with Locally Generated Alternative (LGA) that the Greyhound bus and GET stations would be relocated right next to the HSR Station. Sorry, not in the plans. The stations themselves are completely different. The Truxtun station does look more like the state of the art stations they showed in the workshops. The EIR for the LGA/F Street Station has a station that looks more like a concrete block at a high security prison and not like the pictures they showed at the workshops (bait and switch?). The Truxtun station, which does look like the beautiful stations around the world, has Amtrak next door and space is provided for buses, making this location potentially a transportation hub. GET and Greyhound could relocate to this site. There is nothing in the plans for such an accommodation in the LGA/F Street Station.

Just think about how isolated the LGA/F Street location is. If the station is going to impact the economy of Bakersfield positively, wouldn't you want it in the heart of downtown On Truxtun Avenue? Everything downtown would be within walking distance and the revitalization of downtown would get a shot in the arm. Why is the Ward 2 councilman pushing the LGA/F Street location? I don't know, maybe someone should ask him and then have him defend that position publicly.

I can conjecture why the city manager is pushing the LGA location. He is still sore about the fight he lost with the city of Shafter over annexations on 7th Standard Road. The LGA/F Street Station puts Shafter in a longshot position to get the heavy maintenance facility instead of being in the front runner position. This would be payback (for anyone thinking he is incapable of this you should talk to developers he was unhappy with). There is also the City of Bakersfield corporation yard that HSR would go through. Some or all of the yard would need to be relocated.

Both the city manager and Andrae Gonzales can't seriously believe that the LGA/F St. station is better choice than the Truxtun location. It is not better for business, infrastructure, housing, transportation, or walkability.

Please take the time to voice your opinion to the HSR decision makers by going to FresnoBakersfield@HSR.ca.gov by Jan. 16. It is important.

 

Terry Maxwell is a former city councilman, and he owns TL Maxwell's restaurant in downtown Bakersfield. 

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