Monday, January 3, 2011

Disrupting small-town life in California's central valley

Jennifer Steinhauer reports from Madera, California, population 54,568, in today's New York Times under the headline, "Worries Follow Route of California's High Speed Line." An excerpt follows:
[S]ometime soon, this flat-on-flat expanse — about 150 miles southeast of San Francisco — may well be home to a first-in-the-nation destination as the initial northern terminus of California’s ambitious high-speed rail network.

Under a plan approved in early December, the inaugural stretch of the multispurred 800-mile system will eventually connect San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and Sacramento and other major California cities and will run through the state’s farm-rich Central Valley.

Federal and state authorities have committed some $5.5 billion to the first leg of the project, which will connect Bakersfield, the valley’s southern hub, and the unincorporated area south of Madera.
Despite the jobs it will bring, the rail line has not been embraced in this part of the central Valley. Others complaining are farmers, who say the corridor will eat up valuable farm land. U.S. Representative Dennis Cardozo, a Central Valley Democrat whose district the line does not traverse, has called it a "train to nowhere." A small-town mayor in nearby Corcoran complains that his town isn't nowhere. Instead, he insists, "it's Mayberry." It's an especially interesting and ironic characterization given that 12,000 California inmates are housed nearby.

No comments: