District 4 Supervisor Max Rodriguez discusses economic development, specifically that which could come from high-speed rail, which he has favored, often alone, since the first news of the project.
“I think people are correct when they say that it consists of construction jobs, and that they will build it, and then move on. It’ll be sectional. I see it as a game-changer. A project that will excite people. And I think that excitement is what Madera County needs. I saw that story in your paper on Thursday that said Madera is fifth in income increases in the country, and I think that is totally wrong. How could people in those high places put out a report like that? Totally wrong.
I don’t see the local income rising at that level. It’s even declining. The high-speed rail is a project — a future project — like ones that have been done all over the world. Can we afford it? Probably not at this time, but it’s going to be built in increments, and as time goes on, money will be found, and it will be completed.
“The thing I like most about it is that it’s a people-mover. You’ll have people from all sections of California and the country coming in, going through, seeing what we have here, and the good things. Some people will like it so much they may think about relocating here. We have some subdivisions that will be built, and some of those people living in the Bay Area perhaps could consider moving over here. We can use people with new ideas. This transportation could be a means of having new industry in Madera, local industry. It happened in the Bay Area. Why couldn’t it happen here?
“I can’t wait for the high-speed rail to break ground and get started. Perhaps then we can work together, welcome it, enjoy the fruits it’s going to bring.”
“High-speed rail is for the future. It’s for the young people.
“We need to think about light rail, too. The developers of the new housing divisions need to set aside a corridor for light rail. Light rail will come from Fresno to Madera. They can’t build enough parking in Fresno to accommodate all the cars. So, what’s your alternative? Light rail from Fresno to Merced.
“As far as building a station here, let’s be realistic. To have a high-speed-rail station here would slow the trains too much. But through light rail the smaller areas like Madera neighborhoods could be accommodated.
“There is a segment of the population who think things are fine as they are now, but there are a lot of people in this community who need improvements. They need jobs. The high-speed rail will bring some of those jobs.”
The conversation with Rodriguez continues tomorrow.