Lawsuits won’t affect bid for high-speed rail repair yard

Lawsuits won’t affect bid for high-speed rail repair yard »Play Video
This illustration shows a proposed bullet train running through the Central Valley, near Wasco. (California High-Speed Rail Authority photo)
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — Recent news of Kern County's intent to sue in opposition of the high-speed rail project has some wondering if the move will have a negative impact on the county’s bid for a heavy maintenance yard.

Bringing the high-speed rail heavy maintenance facility to Kern County would have many benefits. There would be roughly 1,500 high-paying jobs and an estimated infusion of $250 million annually to the local economy.

The cities of Shafter and Wasco are two of at least one dozen communities vying for the prize.

Last month, Bakersfield City Council announced its lawsuit against high-speed rail.

A week later, Kern County supervisors also announced a suit.

“If it’s going to come through our neighborhood, let’s make sure our people are going to be included," said contractor Marvin Dean.

Dean runs a program that teaches people the skills needed to apply for some of the potential positions.

Dean worries recent lawsuits could send those jobs elsewhere.

“If (the contract jobs go) outside the community, when they leave, the money leaves.” Dean said.

Kern Supervisor Zack Scrivner said the California High Speed Rail Authority needs a better look at the environmental impacts a downtown Bakersfield stop would have.

“The High Speed Rail Authority needs to look at the environmental impacts to downtown Bakersfield much more closely when they are selecting a route," Scrivner said. "I think the High Speed Rail Authority should be selecting their heavy maintenance facility on the best cost and operationally.”

A spokesperson with High Speed Rail Authority told Eyewitness News that contracts will be awarded using federal guidelines and that pending lawsuits won’t be taken into consideration.