Hundreds of residents and some elected officials from communities across the San Fernando Valley this week descended on a meeting of the California High Speed Rail Authority, condemning a proposal to route the bullet train through their area.
San Fernando Mayor Joel Fijardo said that routing the proposed $68 billion train through his city would have a devastating effect on businesses and the town’s tax base.
“We could conceivably lose upwards of 7 percent of our annual budget and shed hundreds of jobs,” Fijardo said.
Homeowners groups are demanding that the state abandon a proposed route that would roughly parallel the Antelope Valley Freeway (14) through the mountains between Palmdale and San Fernando. That alignment would reportedly include a considerable amount of above-ground track and a series of tunnels. The coalition of communities is demanding that only routes that are predominantly underground should be considered.
Actress Tippi Hedren, who operates an animal preserve in Acton, told the authority that the proposed route is “… going to take this beautiful little town, and destroy it with this train.”
There has been growing resistance to the high speed rail among residents of urban, working-class neighborhoods who contend that the surface route amounts to an environmental injustice. Dan Richard, chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority, said the opposition is expected.
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that coming into the most populous area of our state, it’s going to be challenging,” Richard said. “This is a long process. It’s probably going to be two years of environmental analyses so we can understand the impacts.”