[REGIONAL NEWS] California’s bullet train is pumping billions into the Valley economy. So why is it so unpopular?

Thomas Richards, vice chair of the high-speed rail authority, believes construction of the transportation system will create opportunities in the short term and even bigger ones in the long term. /By Craig Kohlruss


By Dale Kasler, Ryan Lillis and Tim Sheehan | Sacramento Bee

Vicente Ward had trouble finding work after leaving the Air Force — until California’s bullet-train project came along. Now he’s helping build a bridge that some day will carry rail passengers across the San Joaquin River between Madera and Fresno.

“It’s a sense of accomplishment; my kids can see this 20 years from now,” said Ward, 52, a carpenter from Clovis, during a break at the job site. “It’s providing jobs for the community. We help stimulate the economy. … Now my family has medical, has dental.”

Phase One of the state’s high-speed rail line is being assembled, piece by painstaking piece, along a 119-mile stretch between Madera and northern Kern County. A decade after getting approval from California voters, and nearly four years after breaking ground, one of the largest public works projects in California history is taking on a life of its own: Bridges, viaducts and overpasses have sprouted on fertile San Joaquin Valley soil. A section of Highway 99 has been relocated. Work has begun on an enormous trench in Fresno where trains will run beneath an irrigation canal.



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December 2018