People in Bakersfield feel cut out of High-Speed Rail Authority's new plan

FILE - In this Feb. 26, 2015 file photo, a full-scale mock-up of a high-speed train is displayed at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli,File)

After the High-Speed Rail Authority's meeting Thursday, it has become even more clear that Bakersfield could be cut out of the project altogether.

Nothing is finalized yet, but the people in charge of the project are leaning towards having the last train stop in Wasco instead of either Shafter or Bakersfield.

The proposal will likely be finalized next week. Until then, people like Adam Cohen - part of a committee supporting a downtown Bakersfield high-speed rail station - are doing everything they can to get officials to reconsider, including writing letters to Congress.

"You're going to put a station in Wasco? There's really no point in bringing high-speed rail to Kern County," said Cohen. "It's not useful for the vast majority of Bakersfield metro residents ... it means driving approximately 30 to 35 miles to the Wasco Amtrak station to catch a train."

Cohen said that an interim station in downtown Bakersfield would make the most sense because it is the ninth-largest city in California and is the closest to Los Angeles.

He also said the site has better parking and surrounding facilities than the sites in Wasco or Shafter.

"Both of those sites are bad," said Cohen. "If we want to attract private investment, we must have the highest ridership from Day 1."

Eventually, the plan is to have high-speed rail go even farther south once the state secures more than $1 billion worth of funding.

Alan Tandy, the city manager of Bakersfield, released a statement on Friday expressing hope that Bakersfield could still be included in California's high-speed rail plans moving forward.

"We are encouraged by the presentation from HSR CEO, Jeff Morales, who indicated a commitment to pursuing a full connection to Bakersfield as a part of the initial operating segment," wrote Tandy. "However, it's our understanding that the Business Plan will still include an interim station option at the existing Amtrak Station in Wasco, if unable to secure funding to Bakersfield. If this option is selected, we have gone on the record requesting that the HSR stop at Wasco provide a direct connection to Bakersfield as well as Southern California."

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off