Last week, as anticipated, the California High Speed Rail Authority (Authority) unanimously approved the first section of rail line to be developed. The $4.15 billion, 65-mile section of rail line will stretch from the tiny town of Borden to Corcoran in the Central Valley; and will not carry passengers until more of the system is built. However, there is one blatantly peculiar aspect of the Authority’s decision: its location.
Already suffering one of the worst fiscal deficits in the state’s history, many state and national lawmakers are wondering what possessed the Authority to collectively urge laying track in an area so sparse, it has been dubbed the “train to nowhere”? United States Representative Dennis Cardoza (D-Merced), upon hearing news of the decision, immediately issued a press release demanding “ a complete investigation of the process” adding that the decision “defies logic and common sense to have the trains start and stop in remote areas that have no hope of attaining the ridership needed to justify the cost.” California Assembly member Cathleen Galigiani who authored Proposition 1A, the 2008 initiative allocating nearly $10 billion of funds towards high-speed rail, has been vocal in her opposition to the location and began circulating a letter of opposition around legislator’s office since news of the Authority’s decision broke.
Being dubbed the “train to nowhere” is unfair- there is an end point. The approved segment is slated to end in Corcoran, a slightly larger town than Borden with nearly 15,000 residents and one claim to fame: Charles Manson. The Corcoran State Prison, known for being the “most troubled prison in the State,” also serves as home to some of the worst criminals. Thanks to the Authority’s vote yesterday, Corcoran will now also be known as the first final destination of California’s High Speed Train.