On Tuesday, February 12 during his ‘State of the State’ address, California Governor Gavin Newsom announced a scaled-back effort for the California High Speed Rail project.
As initially proposed, the City of Tehachapi was to be impacted by the rail line to connect Northern and Southern California. Although not considered for a stop, the rail project was proposed to run through the Capital Hills area, across Highway 58 and through Steuber and Tehachapi Willow Springs Roads.
The new focus for the project from Governor Newsom is to pursue high speed rail service from Bakersfield to Merced, essentially abandoning the plans for the Northern and Southern California link, and thus eliminating the portion through Tehachapi for the foreseeable future.
“The City of Tehachapi applauds the Governor’s decision to modify this project as it was initially proposed,” said City Manager Greg Garrett. “While we were willing to work with the State of California, many residents had objected to both the cost of the project, the delays and especially the impact that this rail line was to have on our community. Tehachapi will continue to thrive without High Speed Rail.”
City staff and members of the community worked closely with the High Speed Rail Authority over the last several years as Tehachapi routes, designs and other documents were drafted. While the rail line is no longer impacting the community, the City recently adopted a Capital Hills Specific Plan, funded by the High Speed Rail Authority. In part, this plan protected the natural view shed and landscape at the northern edge of the City limits.
Governor Newsom did leave the possibility of one day finishing the originally-proposed 520-mile rail line, but no timetable, funding source or details were included. He did mention in his address that work on environmental reviews for the entire 520-mile project as initially proposed will continue.
Additionally, Tehachapi could indirectly benefit from the Bakersfield-to-Merced high speed rail as business, tourism and other economic interests in the nearby Central San Joaquin Valley are tied together in a much-closer fashion.