FRESNO, Calif. - Serious concerns tonight from a Chinatown shop-keeper about what will become of them in the High Speed Rail's wake. Morgan Doizaki manages The Central Fish Company. He says the planned road closures and detours will hurt his business. "I don't see how people are going to get to Chinatown unless we make some changes right now," he says. "These are just drafts. These are nothing concrete so I don't know what to prepare for yet. I don't know what to expect. They're knocking down Kern Street and Mono Street forever and I know we're gonna put a fight on for that," Doizaki says.
Doizaki was among several downtown and Chinatown business owners and managers invited to get an update on construction from the High Speed Rail Authority. Some big changes are planned that impact traffic on Tulare Street. "We have a closure coming up at the end of this month. We are building an underpass for cars and that will grade separate High Speed Rail tracks and Union Pacific Railroad Tracks," says Toni Tinoco the public information officer for the High Speed Rail Authority.
The closures on Tulare and eventually Ventura in Downtown Fresno could last two years. The Fresno Rescue Mission is impacted. It's in temporary quarters now, a new permanent location won't be built until the rail construction is done. "And that's why we're interested in seeing what this whole project of G Street going under Ventura. I mean Ventura underpass and how G Street is affected, because it will affect us," says Rescue Mission CEO Don Eskes.
What's unclear is how businesses like Central Fish will survive if customers have difficulty getting to them. According to Morgan Doizaki, "Once you make that trip from Downtown to Chinatown and you follow that detour route, I don't think you're going to do it again. I wouldn't ."
High Speed Rail officials say they're working closely with the City of Fresno to make sure traffic plans that are approved work for everyone.