The route selected for the first segment of the California high-speed rail line, from Bakersfield to an unincorporated area south of Madera in the Central Valley, came as a surprise, The New York Times reports. Some felt the initial section should have connected major cities, like Los Angeles and Anaheim or San Francisco and San Jose.
"But the Federal Rail Administration required that the first federal money be spent in the hard-hit Central Valley."
"Construction of what will be the first high-speed rail line in the United States is to begin in 2012 and run through 2017, with the promise of creating tens — even hundreds — of thousands of jobs in an area that suffers some of the highest unemployment rates in the state.
"But despite the potential bounty of jobs, high-speed rail has not been fully embraced. After the rail authority approved the initial route in early December, Representative Dennis Cardoza, a Central Valley Democrat, disparagingly referred to it as 'the train to nowhere.'”
"Part of that agita, of course, may be that the first section of high-speed rail will not pass through his district."
"But the congressman is not the only person complaining. Several towns have passed resolutions opposing the project because of worries about the disruption of a 220-mile-an-hour train zipping through downtown districts."
"And in the Central Valley, where huge, decades-old government irrigation projects have helped turned California into an agricultural powerhouse, farmers have grumbled about the rail project gobbling up valuable farm land."