The decision by the California High-Speed Rail Authority to build the northern section of track first is having big consequences for the location of the project’s heavy maintenance facility. The facility and is highly sought after by several valley communities, and is expected to bring with it around 1,500 jobs.
In the authority’s new proposal, the first section of functional track would run from San Jose to Shafter.
That decision could hurt Kern County’s chance of landing the heavy maintenance facility. The authority had identified two possible sites for the facility in Kern County, one in Wasco and one in south Shafter. With the changes announced last week, the Wasco site would still be on the proposed first section of track, but the Shafter location would not. That could give the Fresno bid for the facility a boost, according to Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea.
“It puts Fresno in a better spot because now that we are heading north, it seems the competition from Kern diminishes. But by the same token, by going north what it does is possibly put the Merced and quite possibly the Madera site back in play,” Perea said.
Officials with the high speed rail authority are expected to revisit Merced's proposed site later this week. Both the Merced and Madera sites were not considered prime locations when the rail had expected the first section of track to run south to Burbank.
Perea said regardless of renewed competition it remains Fresno County’s intention to push hard for the facility.
“Obviously as a Fresno person, I want to make sure that we are continuing to put our best foot forward showing the authority that we are the best and preferred site,” Perea said.
Perea said he expects a decision on where to locate the facility is expected within the next two or three months.