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Fresno says it belongs on California's proposed high-speed rail network

FRESNO, Calif. -- Just in case there was any doubt, Fresno made its case for a stop on the state's proposed high-speed rail network, the Fresno Bee reports.

With the state High Speed Rail Authority holding its monthly public meeting here, city and county officials and a representative from the Fresno Area Residents for Rail Consolidation talked about how the city could benefit from the high-speed rail, and how high-speed rail could benefit from the city.

The testimony was delivered by people who seemed intent on making a point that Fresno and the Valley belonged in a club dominated by Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

Maybe the sparse board attendance had something to do with that: Only three of the authority's nine members and Executive Director Mehdi Morshed made the trip to Fresno City Hall. The 220-mph trains will run from San Diego to Sacramento and the Bay Area via Los Angeles and Fresno.

A bill that would authorize asking voters in 2004 to approve a $9 billion rail bond to pay for most of the first phase should be on Gov. Davis' desk by next week.

On Wednesday, Bruce Rudd, general manager of Fresno Area Express, talked about Fresno's transportation system and how it would benefit an intermodal transportation center -- a downtown Fresno high-speed rail station complemented by regional rail, FAX buses and Greyhound as well as the freeway system.

Rod Diridon, the authority board's chairman, noted that the high-speed rail stations will be few and far between, so access at those stations to as many regional modes of transportation as possible is vital.

Fred Burkhardt, Fresno's economic development manager, said the high-speed rail would be a catalyst for development.

He also said a Fresno high-speed rail station could increase attendance at downtown events by 25 percent to 30 percent.

Monday, August 26, 2002

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