Regional Planning in the San Joaquin Valley: High Speed Rail
Since 2004, the California High Speed Rail Authority(HSRA) has been planning for construction of a bullet train through the San Joaquin Valley, linking southern California, the Bay Area and Sacramento. Nothing better underscores the need for truly regional planning than this $40 billion project that will cross jurisdiction boundaries, connect communities and stimulate economic development that could simply lead to more urban sprawl. But planning for the rail system has taken place without much coordination with the Blueprint or other regional planning processes. As one observer said, “They’re doing the hardware without the software that will make it work.” Soon, HSRA intends to break ground on the first segment of track in a remote area of the southern San Joaquin Valley –rather than between major population centers—even though full funding of the system is far from assured and the agriculture community is very concerned about its impact on the land, irrigation systems and the transport of both inputs and food products to and from farms, suppliers and markets.