Fresno Co. OK's $25m in tax cash to help win HSR maintenance hub
- Published Thursday, October 21 2010, by the Bakersfield Californian
Fresno County's bid for rail facility gets $25 million
By John Cox
Californian staff writer
Fresno County scored an important win Wednesday in its bid to land a maintenance facility for the proposed California High-Speed Rail project.
In a move that distinguishes it from rival Kern County, Fresno won final approval to dedicate $25 million to help build the facility, which would come with at least 1,500 good jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits.
Wednesday's 5-0 vote by the Fresno County Transportation Authority gives the Fresno group something none of the other seven communities in the competition have: a cash incentive to sweeten its offer.
"There's no question that that money will assist in our efforts" to attract the rail maintenance facility, said Fresno County Supervisor Henry Perea, co-chairman of a committee working to bring the train maintenance facility to Fresno.
While Kern officials have said they are trying to raise money for their bid to have the facility built in either Shafter or Wasco, they have taken a markedly different approach to the competition than has Fresno County. Earlier this month Kern officials announced that the owner of the proposed Shafter site, Paramount Farms, has offered to donate the entire property if it is selected by the rail authority. Fresno's proposed property has dozens of owners, and Perea has declined to state what his team is doing to win rights to the site.
Last week Kern launched a campaign to build support for its two proposals. Teresa Hitchcock, an administrative analyst with the county, said officials here want to gauge local backing for the plan before asking for public or private money.
"We certainly wouldn't want to pledge money to something without having community support for that," she said Wednesday.
Perea said the $25 million, generated by a half-cent sales tax in the county, could potentially be increased to as much as $100 million in complementary rail work funding.
"It's not to say that in the future, you know, we couldn't go back to the public and ask them to do more, depending how this whole things plays out," he said.
People behind Kern's and Fresno County's bids say the authority is likely to select a site in one of the two counties because the maintenance facility needs nearby access to a flat, uninterrupted test track measuring about 100 miles, something they say exists in none of the other sites still in the running.
A decision on where the facility would be built is expected sometime next year.
[BATN: See also:
In bid for HSR maintenance hub, Fresno takes HSRA's Kopp on tour
Kern Co. battles Fresno Co. for HSR heavy maintenance facility
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In bid for HSR hub, Fresno group to take HSRA chair on heli-tour
HSRA cuts one Merced-Fresno route, but another one threatens farms
HSRA narrows Merced-Fresno route & station choices
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Hill takes HSRA chair Pringle on tour of NIMBY-lined Caltrain route
Editorial: Fresno Co. should do everything it can to get HSR hub
Fresno leaders move quickly to make bid for HSR yard
Column: Fresno must pull together to win HSR maintenance hub
Fresno Co. may divert transit sales tax to draw HSR rail yard