In another development, the authority has recommended its preferred route for the Fresno-to-Bakersfield section of the project. Known as "Hanford East," the 114-mile segment would travel east of the city of Hanford. Previously, authority officials had recommended a route traveling west of Hanford. The authority noted last week that the route was revised in part to avoid planned development west of Hanford.
But Fukuda, chairman of the grassroots organization Citizens for California High-Speed Rail Accountability, described the eastern route as just as damaging to farmland and the community as the previous route.
"This new route is no different than the western alignment for our community. Nothing changed from the day after or the day before (the new alignment was announced)," Fukuda said. "They gave us two bad alignments and expected us to choose."
Opponents of high-speed rail in Kings County say they would have preferred for the rail system to remain on existing transportation corridors, such as Interstate 5 or Highway 99.
Meanwhile, on another portion of the new Fresno-to-Bakersfield alignment the authority decided to table a proposed Wasco-Shafter Bypass concept in Kern County. Instead, the track would follow the existing Burlington Northern/Santa Fe railroad right-of-way. This new alignment, which agricultural representatives in the Wasco-Shafter area prefer, was selected, at least in part, to avoid impacts to a new oil-well field along the formerly proposed bypass.
To the north, land acquisition is beginning for the Merced-to-Fresno section of the high-speed rail project.
Madera County Farm Bureau Executive Director Anja Raudabaugh said she is aware so far of only one purchase offer made to an agricultural landowner in Madera County, and that the offer had been rejected.
As a resource for landowners with property along the proposed alignment of the rail line, the California Farm Bureau Federation has posted on its website detailed information about the eminent-domain land acquisition process, as well as information on the tax implications of eminent-domain takings. To find the information, see the Issues and Regulations page at www.cfbf.com/issues/index.cfm and look for the Eminent Domain subheading.