The California High-Speed Rail Authority now owns more than 1,272 parcels stretching from Madera to south of Wasco, a 119-mile corridor of abandoned commercial buildings, vacant lots, dying orchards, boarded up homes and construction sites.
Today much of it is an eyesore and a magnet for criminal activity that is affecting the surrounding areas. It has put stress on already hard-luck communities that grapple with poverty, homelessness and crime.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the massive scope of the bullet train project has birthed a problem unprecedented in recent California history: The current construction program is creating a corridor 100 feet or more wide through the Central Valley. Many of the land takes are stuck in protracted litigation, creating a patchwork of property ownership and leaving lots vacant for a long time.
One veteran rail designer who works on the high-speed rail project said it has created “a linear ghetto.”
The hapless rail authority does not deny that a problem exists, but says it is doing everything it can to address it.
It’s given bullet train haters lots to complain about.
The responsibility for protecting the rail authority’s property falls to the Highway Patrol. Since January 2015, the CHP has received 392 calls involving problems on high-speed rail property.
So far, mismanagement has created a debacle for local communities impacted. Still, the people who wear nice suits and scored big consulting contracts with the state are happy. In Sacramento, that’s the most important thing.
It’s too bad. High speed rail will be good for California in the long-term. Until then, many will continue to suffer.