At this weeks Hanford City Council meeting representatives from Visalia and the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) added their support to help design a new high speed rail station to serve the greater Kings /Tulare region.
City Manager of Visalia Mike Olmos told the Hanford City Council study session on the issue that while they had not taken a position of the project in the past “if it is going to be built we want to make sure we have a station stop here.” Olmos says “otherwise the project offers us nothing.” He added it is important for us to be connected to the rest of California for all kinds of reasons “including economic development.”
Also in attendance was Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen.
Representing all of Tulare County, Ted Smalley, Executive Director of Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) said they would offer to put up $100,000 in funding as half the local match of $200,000 to be added to a $600,000 grant offered to Hanford by the state high speed rail authority.The proposed study would include a look at a design of the station as well as connections both locally and regionally.
Smalley said he would take the $100,000 fund request to his board at their September meeting.
Part of the study being put together by Hanford City Manager Darrel Pyle will include a possible light rail connection for Kings County and Tulare County that could run on the east/west Cross Valley Rail route. The proposed station site on Hanford’s eastern edge would sit astride both the 5 track bullet train line and a possible light rail line connecting back to Visalia to the east and NAS Lemoore to the west.
Since this was a study session and one member of the Hanford council was not present – the matter will came back to the city council for a vote at an upcoming meeting, likely in 2 weeks.
Asked about TCAG’s offer Smalley says ”if Hanford decides that the project moves forward we want to be a good neighbor and partner with them” even though his board of course has the final word.
As the light rail part of the study Smalley notes that ”while this project may be a ways off you have to start early to get right of way secured and lots of other work or the opportunity may be lost.”
Members of the Kings County Board of Supervisors have said they do not approve of Hanford’s participation in the study. Both supporters and opponents spoke at the meeting.
At the July 21 meeting CHSRA regional director Diana Gomez promised there would be a station built whether locals participate in the design or not.The station would be ready to accept passengers by 2022.
An Authority spokesperson said they hope to advertise for an architect to design three Central Valley stations including this one by the end of this year.