MADERA (KCBS)—Members of a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee will hold a special hearing in Madera on Tuesday about the status of the California's High-Speed Rail project with a focus on rail authority's purchases of Central Valley farm land.
With shovels ready to start digging in six weeks for the first phase of the project, controversies over the $68 billion high-speed rail project—that will connect Northern and Southern California—have not abated.
U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Atwater), who chairs the sub-committee on the rail road pipelines and hazardous materials, said many farmers and ranchers are upset because they are being forced to sell land to the Rail Authority.
"These are farmers who don't want to sell their land at all. They are being forced out and, you know, this is generations of farming. People have a right to know. They ought to be outraged," he said.
Landowners, Denham said, want to know how much they will be compensated, and if eminent domain will be used. There is also a concern about the economic viability of the project, but California High-Speed Rail Authority Chairman Dan Richard said they have "a good story to tell."
"Over the last year, there has been tremendous progress made. We've got a better business plan. We've got an organization that's developed," he said.
Portions of the project that are federally funded must be completed by 2017 to avoid the forfeiture of grants, which would hamper further long-term financing. Of the $68 billion, the Government Accountability Office so far estimates the project is short more than $38 billion.
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