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High Speed Rail Board Approves Fresno to Bakersfield Route

High Speed Rail makes more tracks in it's push to change travel in the Central Valley and across the state.  Wednesday ,the green light was given for the Fresno to Bakersfield section of the bullet train path.

In an unanimous vote, the High Speed Rail Authority voted to approve the latest leg of tracks from downtown Fresno to downtown Bakersfield.

Board Chairman Dan Richard says, "No part of California is going to benefit more from High Speed Rail than right her in the Central Valley."

Tom Richards, Vice Chair says, "It's a small step, but it's a very meaningful step."

The decision to certify the environmental impact report came despite pleas from the public Tuesday night.  Many asked for more time to review the report and it's thousands and thousands of pages.

Kings County landowner Frank Olivera says, "This is exactly what we expected."

Olivera owns land in Kings County.  He says about 1,200 of his cherry, walnut and almond trees are right in the route's path.

"It'll affect our ability to operate the farm in several different places," says Olivera.

The board reviewed concerns and comments, touching on fair compensation for disrupted land as well as air quality problems; specifically Valley Fever and how to minimize dust from construction.  The agency says it will suspend construction when wind speeds exceed 25 miles an hours, keep construction areas watered and wash trucks and equipment as they leave.

The board says it offered the public a review time longer than required by law, but according to Assemblyman Jim Patterson, Wednesday's vote is just another example of a project that's being rushed.

Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R-Fresno) says, "They have given the people of California very little time to comment on it and that's why I've said from the very beginning that this is an agency that's out of control."

Although Wednesday's vote was a win for High Speed Rail, the project could still be de-railed.   It's fate now depends on two court cases which deal with funding and the ever-changing elements of the project.  Those cases are expected to be heard in the next month or so.

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