Most people are tired of hearing about high-speed rail, and with good reason. It seems a week can’t go by without some tiny little step in the process of it getting funded, approved, built – or the opposite. And with each step, there are arguments and complaints.
This week, the secretary of state gave approval for a person who is against rail to begin collecting signatures for an initiative that, if it gets on the ballot and wins approval, would prohibit the sale of bonds that are meant to finance the project. In essence, it would undo what voters previously approved.
Whether any or all of it ever gets built is something only time will tell. It might not. Or it might.
And it’s the latter option that Kings County residents should pay attention to. Now is the time to take steps that ensure if high-speed rail is built, it becomes more of an asset than a detriment to the county.
In December, the Hanford City Council asked City Manager Darrell Pyle to take some steps that do just that by sending a request for more than $15 million to pay for major extensions of the city’s water and sewer mainlines. The money would be used to extend those services to the site of the proposed station, which is approximately a half mile northeast of the Highway 43 and Lacy Boulevard intersection. That is an area that is outside the city’s sphere of influence, which means the station could be built without city input, then need city services.
When Pyle sent the request, there were anti-rail people who criticized him. They interpreted the action as tacit approval of high-speed rail.
It is not. The request does not mean the station will be built and it doesn’t even mean the council is in favor of the station in particular or high-speed rail in general.
It just means the council and city manager are being prudent managers and trying to forestall problems no matter what happens with rail. That’s an approach jurisdictions throughout the county should take. It’s a lot easier to ask for money ahead of time as a condition of construction than to wind up trying to unravel a mess after the fact.
We urge the county to take a similar approach, and hope that the anti-rail people will understand that no matter how much they don’t want it, the tracks could be laid and the station built. Let’s be prepared, no matter what happens.