HANFORD — Kings County supervisors on Tuesday will likely ask three key legislators to delay high-speed rail funding until the project resolves local conflicts.
They will consider making the request in a letter to state Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach; state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto; and state Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Walnut Creek.
“Simitian, Lowenthal and DeSaulnier have consistently worked to ensure that the [California High-Speed Rail Authority] project is planned and conducted in a publicly accountable manner before state funding is released,” county documents state.
Simitian and Lowenthal are co-chairmen of the Senate Select Committee on High-Speed Rail. DeSaulnier is chairman of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Housing.
The Legislature is expected to vote in June whether to spend $2.7 billion in state bond money on the project, which has created major controversy in the San Joaquin Valley and stoked opposition from several cities and counties who believe it should be scrapped.
Denying the funding would stop the Authority from starting construction in Fresno later this year or in early 2013.
Simitian, Lowenthal and DeSaulnier grilled Authority board chairman Dan Richard this week at a public hearing in Mountain View. Richard said that the Authority’s final business plan draft, due in a few weeks, will lower the cost, speed up the timeline and put greater emphasis on the Bay Area and Los Angeles “end points” for the planned high-speed rail system.
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Richard offered few specifics when questioned.
The current business plan includes a $98.5 billion price tag for the Bay Area-to-Los Angeles tracks and a finish date of 2033.
Richard said construction is still slated to start with a “backbone” segment from Merced to Bakersfield.
In other business, supervisors will consider sending John Lehn, CEO of Kings County Economic Development Corp., to New York City to meet with real estate executives. Lehn and representatives from the California Central Valley Economic Development Corp. are lobbying to get East Coast companies to relocate to the economically challenged Central Valley.
Supervisors meet at 9 a.m. in board chambers at the Kings County Government Center.
The reporter can be reached at 583-2432 or snidever@HanfordSentinel.com.