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Tulare Council Approves Hwy 99 & Cartmill Hotel / Pine Flat Storage /More

Tulare Council Approves Hwy 99 & Cartmill Hotel

Despite pressure from nearby homeowners and residents the Tulare City Council approved a plan to build a four-star, 5-story hotel at Cartmill and Hwy 99 this week. The council on a 4 to 0 vote overruled a city planning commission rejection of the big project. Council member David Macedo,who represents the district on the council, missed the meeting. Monterey Dynasty,based in Cupertino, now gets the green light to move forward on their 136 room hotel.

Pine Flat Could Reach 620,000AF Over Next 10 Days

snowpack 2017-01-17 at 6.34.28 AMStorms over the next 10 days could add another 100,000 acre-feet of water to Pine Flat Dam on the Kings River says the river’s watermaster Steve Haugen. That would put storage at the key reservoir at 620,000 acre-feet – close to the highest level reached all last year. The year 2015  – like several previous ones – was dry with the lake reaching only 275,000 acre-ft. “This is the best we have seen in years”  adds Haugen saying that the most recent storms helped big time on the snow pack.

“We already have 80 to 90% of average snowpack for the year and we are only half way through.” The vigorous weather systems in the past few weeks added around 250,000 acre-ft to the lake since the first of the new year,“pretty unusual” he says.

This week the NWS is calling for a for a foot of new snow in the Tulare County mountains.

“You never know if the weather could turn all of a sudden to a dry pattern like 1997” adds Haugen. “For now it looks good.” The most recent snow sensor reports say snowpack in the southern Sierra stands at 186 percent of average for this time of the year and 85 percent of April 1. For the Central Sierra – we stand at 153 percent of average for this date and 76 percent of April 1 average. On the upper Kaweah snowpack has built up nicely at Farewell Gap now with 33.7 inches – 97 percent of the April 1 average. Skiers at China Peak are happy too, with as much as 178 inches of snow falling this season.

New High Speed Rail Report Stirs Fear Of Cost Overruns – Authority Says No

Many Kings County farmers don’t like high speed rail who continues to buy up right of way here. Now the LA Time reports that “California’s bullet train could cost taxpayers 50% more than estimated — as much as $3.6 billion more. And that’s just for the first 118 miles through the Central Valley, which was supposed to be the easiest part of the route between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
A confidential Federal Railroad Administration risk analysis, obtained by The Times, projects that building bridges, viaducts, trenches and track from Merced to Shafter, just north of Bakersfield, could cost $9.5 billion to $10 billion, compared with the original budget of $6.4 billion.”
But in a letter dated January 13 to state legislators the rail authority said the Times got it wrong.
“With regard to cost, the article ignores the fact the original grant funding was for basic civil construction and did not include stations, electrification, systems and other features necessary to achieve high-speed rail operations. Those additional features – which are not overruns but necessary additions – are being funded with available state funding, as detailed in the funding plan approved by the Authority’s Board of Directors in December 2016. That plan provides extensive details, estimating the cost at $7.8 billion, not $9.5 or $10 billion; further, the$7.8 billion includes over $900 million in contingencies to cover increases.”
In addition the Authority argues it is adjusting expenses adding that  “the capital costs for the overall program have decreased, not increased, something not reported in the article. While overall capital costs have declined, we also reported to the legislature risks to schedule and costs associated with specific construction packages and we will continue to do so, with our next project update to be provided to the legislature in March 2017.”

Sequoia /Kings Canyon Entrance Fee Rises To $30

As of 2017 the entrance fee to Sequoia and Kings Canyon NP  has increased from $25 for a single vehicle to $30.The annual pass is $50.“Entrance fees have supported many of the projects in the parks that enhance our visitor experience. This includes maintaining trails, installing exhibits in visitor centers, and even providing free shuttle busses in the parks that alleviate congestion during peak periods,” said Christy Brigham, acting Superintendent for Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

Hotel Revenue Improves in Visalia Metro

Smith Travel report that hotel occupancy in Visalia metro area went up to 58.7% in November 2016 compared to 55.4% a year earlier. Hotel ADR increased to $90.70 from $83.50 in November 2015. Room revenue was up 14%.

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