Valley Public Radio - Live Audio

High Speed Rail

This week on Valley Edition, we get reports on the surprising reason insurance premiums for many Covered California customers are dropping, and what local health care leaders are doing to address a rise in pre-term births in Fresno County. We also explore the following issues in interviews:

California High-Speed Rail Authority

The Board of the California High-Speed Rail Authority is expected to vote on an awarding a contract, likely to a European company, to be the line's early train operator. The contract is a small fraction of the total cost of the rail line but represents a significant step toward making the bullet train a reality. Valley Public's Radio's Joe Moore and Jeffrey Hess discuss what the High-Speed Rail Authority is looking for and who has the inside track.

Why does Deutsche Bahn seem to be the company with the best shot?

City of Bakersfield

It’s been an eventful first year on the Bakersfield City Council for Andrae Gonzales, who represents downtown, Westchester and other Ward 2 neighborhoods.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The first major piece of construction for high speed rail in downtown Fresno is complete. On Friday, officials cut the ribbon on a brand new Tuolumne Street bridge.

The massive bridge is designed to carry traffic over the existing railways and create enough space below for the high speed trains.

HSR Board Vice Chair Tom Richards says the bridge is an important symbol of progress that shines far beyond Fresno.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

Drive up and down Highway 99 in Fresno County and you will no doubt see evidence that California’s high-speed rail project is slowly becoming a reality. While there’s still big questions about how long it will take to finish the entire project, and how the state will pay for it, the rail authority says it hopes to have trains up and running by 2024.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

It’s a new year, and that means a new chapter in the ongoing saga that is California’s high-speed rail project. While construction in the Fresno area is becoming more and more visible with every month, efforts to stop the project are also picking up steam in the courtroom. The center of the fight against the rail line is in Kings County, where a number of landowners and county supervisors have challenged the rail project in court, saying it violates the voter-approved Proposition 1A.

City of Fresno

A number of affordable housing projects in Fresno, Tulare and Kern Counties are getting a financial boost from the state’s cap-and-trade program. The state’s Strategic Growth Council announced Wednesday that the four developments will receive around $50 million from the program, which aims to reduce residents’ reliance on cars, through supporting "transit-oriented" development. 

California High-Speed Rail Authority

The Fresno City Council could act this week to bolster the city's push to be chosen as the home for the heavy maintenance facility for California’s high-speed rail project. 

On Thursday, the council is set to vote on a proposal that would set aside $250,000 to secure the rights to property at the proposed site in Southwest Fresno. That money would be used to put non-refundable deposits on the land which is currently owned by several private parties. 

The city has identified the lack of control over the land as a major hurdle in their push to attract the project.

Joe Moore / Valley Public Radio

The news that the City of Fresno is set to receive up to $70 million from the state in the form of cap-and-trade funding is the latest issue in the Fresno mayor’s race.

Mayoral candidates Lee Brand and Henry Perea offered opposing visions of how to spend the money during a debate last night that focused on issue of downtown revitalization.

California High-Speed Rail Authority

Work is progressing on the high-speed rail project’s most visible landmark in downtown Fresno, the new Tuolumne Street Bridge. Workers today began lifting the first of 42 massive steel and concrete girders into place.

The beams are 149 feet long and each weighs 83 tons. They will one day carry vehicle traffic from both Highway 99 and downtown Fresno over the Union Pacific and high speed rail tracks. Officials with the California High-Speed Rail Authority say that construction on the bridge is ahead of schedule.

Jeffrey Hess/KVPR

The average commute in the Central Valley is just around 20 minutes. Now think of a long commute. Now longer. And longer. How about 6 times longer. That is what thousands of workers in the northern end of the valley are doing every day.

They are the target of high-speed rail advocates who think they can convince these mega-commuters to abandon their cars and move to Fresno or Merced to ride the train. But why are these workers making such a long commute in the first place? Reporter Jeffrey Hess shadowed one to experience the trip and ask that very question.

High-Speed Rail Authority

Supporters of California’s ambitious High-Speed rail project are making a lot of big promises about what the line can achieve, everything from less greenhouse gas emissions to fewer cars on the road. One of the most far-reaching claims is the potential to revolutionize towns where there will be stations like Fresno and Merced.

https://twitter.com/stopcawatergrab

Last week we heard from proponents of the effort to qualify a new ballot measure that would take money from high speed rail and direct it to the construction of new dams. While many California farmers support the effort, some are opposed, saying it would slow down the process and unnecessarily change a key part of historic state water law.

US Bureau of Reclamation

Just two years ago California voters approved a water bond that set aside billions to pay for new water storage. Now a new group backed by many of the valley’s most influential farmers says that’s not enough to build new dams and expand existing ones.

High-Speed Rail Authority

A new report from California's non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office raises questions about the California High-Speed Rail Authority's latest plan to end the project's first operating section near Shafter in rural Kern County. 

Pages