To the editor: Calls to shift bullet train funds from the Central Valley to the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas perpetuate the decades-old problem of overlooking and neglecting the Central Valley.
Ten years ago, the federally mandated decision to begin construction of the nation’s first truly high-speed rail system in Fresno was met with excitement and enthusiasm. We looked at this decision and said, “Finally” -- finally we have something in the state that starts with us. The Central Valley section will serve as the backbone for the entire system, promising us a future that includes connectivity to the rest of the state.
Furthermore, having electrified high-speed is necessary for our region, which has long suffered some of the worst air quality in the nation. If we ever want to solve this issue, we must build an alternative means of getting people to and from the Central Valley that doesn’t require diesel fuel.
Early on, the project was characterized as a “bullet train for job creation,” and today those words ring true. High-speed rail development in the Central Valley has put more than 3,000 individuals to work, and even as Fresno County’s unemployment rate dropped to a record low of 5.8% in October, the Central Valley continues to face enormous economic challenges.
For us here in the Central Valley, this once-in-a-lifetime project can help us break multi-generational poverty and improve the health and air quality of our communities. It is time to move trains and people, generate a revenue stream and continue to reshape the Central Valley’s economy. It is time for our region to receive the benefits that have eluded us for too long.
Lee Ann Eager, Fresno
The writer is president and chief executive of the Fresno County Economic Development Corp.