Bullet train opponents want more time to review EIR
April 28, 2014
• Say there’s too little time to digest the 20,000-page environmental impact report
• “The High-Speed Rail Authority is once again trying to ram this project through the heart of our Valley”
• UPDATED @ 11:32 a.m. Tuesday
The final environmental impact report for the Fresno to Bakersfield section of the proposed high-speed rail system runs some 20,000 pages and that’s just too much to absorb in the time currently given for public comment, say state Sen. Andy Vidak, R-Hanford, and Assemblyman Jim Patterson, R-Fresno.
In a letter to High Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard, they’re requesting an extension of the time period set to review the project.
UPDATE: A spokeswoman for the rail authority said late Tuesday morning that the letter had not yet arrived.
The High Speed Rail Authority has taken the last 18 months to prepare the final EIR and has scheduled a public hearing for May 6, the lawmakers say, with a vote to approve it on the following day.
This only gives the public approximately 17 days to review the 20,000-page document which contains 4,800 pages of responses to public comment, they say.
“Seventeen days just isn’t enough time for the public to review this massive document,” says Mr. Patterson, a former mayor of Fresno. “My constituents have waited 18 months to receive answers to their questions about how this project will impact their lives. They deserve more time to review responses to these questions.”
Reading 20,000 pages in 17 days would require cranking through 49 pages an hour, 24 hours a day.
"The High-Speed Rail Authority is once again trying to ram this project through the heart of our Valley without allowing time for constituents’ voices to be heard," says Mr. Vidak.
The EIR contains information on environmental impacts and information on how construction and operation of the High Speed Rail will affect neighborhoods and farmland.
In the letter, the legislators requested that the Authority postpone any public hearing and potential approval of the final EIR until after June 30, allowing the public approximately one month to review and provide further comments.
If built, the high-speed trains would hurtle through parts of the Central Valley at speeds topping 200 miles per hour.