Coalition pushes Madera County site for rail facility
Local community and business leaders, elected officials and residents have announced the formation of a coalition to support locating the high-speed rail heavy maintenance facility in Madera County.
Madera County is located near the high-speed rail’s planned wye, which will serve as a main junction for the high-speed rail system by connecting the Central Valley to San Francisco Bay Area-, Sacramento- and Southern California-bound trains.
Wye Madera County claims Madera County is the cheaper, faster and smarter location for the heavy maintenance facility due to its “cost-effective sites, existing industrial zoning, central location and regional economic benefits.”
The coalition’s membership includes people from Madera county and city government, Chowchilla city government, Madera Unified School District, Madera County Economic Development Commission, the Madera County Workforce Development Board, and the Madera Association of Realtors.
“We want the heavy maintenance facility to have a seamless launch,” said Brett Frazier, Wye Madera County member and county supervisor. “Shovel-ready sites will decrease long-term operational costs and save money on costs associated with land acquisition and land use approvals. By saving time and money, the residents of our region will be allowed to work in this facility sooner rather than later, which will benefit all Californians.”
In contrast to other counties vying for the maintenance facility, Madera County offers single parcel sites connected to existing infrastructure, the coalition said. One such site on Avenue 12 is zoned industrial.
In addition, Madera County has an accessible workforce in surrounding communities, which include populations within the county as well as neighboring Fresno and Merced counties.
“Locating the heavy maintenance facility in the center of the region through a Madera County site will give residents in Merced, Fresno and other nearby counties employment opportunities, which will help lift up our local economies,” said Max Rodriguez, Madera County supervisor and Wye Madera County member.
Madera County also has a proven record of success in job creation and training. It was ranked No. 1 in the nation last year for manufacturing job growth, and the Madera Unified School District has proactively implemented job training programs. These produce approximately 200 graduates per year ready to work at the heavy maintenance facility.
“We are constantly looking for ways to stimulate job creation, and the heavy maintenance facility represents a terrific opportunity to build on our success. Madera County’s close proximity to UC Merced and Fresno State increases workforce development and other partnership opportunities with both institutions,” said Madera Unified School District Superintendent and Wye Madera County member Ed Gonzalez. “We are the cheaper, faster, smarter choice and welcome all who share our vision to join us in this effort.”
Organizers said Wye Madera County members will educate the community about why Madera County is the best the location for the heavy maintenance facility through the informational video and a website, as well as a Facebook page, letters of support and ongoing engagement at Authority board meetings. The authority is expected to decide the site of the heavy maintenance facility later this year.
To join the coalition or learn more about the high-speed rail heavy maintenance facility, visit www.wyemaderacounty.com .