The possibility of a high-speed rail running through downtown Bakersfield is becoming more likely. State officials recommended a plan this week that would take out hundreds of homes and businesses including the Bakersfield Homeless Center and part of Mercy Hospital.
California High Speed Rail Authority is proposing a station on Truxtun Avenue right behind the Amtrak Station, with a route right through the middle of downtown.
"We're very concerned," said Louis Gill, CEO of the Bakersfield Homeless Center.
Gill is concerned because the high-speed rail route recommended would go right through the Bakersfield Homeless Center that's often filled to capacity.
"Last night, we had 186 individuals, 48 families, 92 of those people were children, children we don't want to see on the streets," said Gill.
But, the homeless center is just one of an estimated 1,800 properties that would be displaced by the route preliminarily recommended Wednesday by the High-Speed Rail Authority. This is the route they call the hybrid alignment. We know it as the purple line.
"I'm not in favor of this at all," said Terry Maxwell, Bakersfield City Council member, Ward 2, where a majority of the impact will be.
It would run through downtown Bakersfield, north of the railroad tracks, with a station behind Amtrak. It would miss Bakersfield High School, but take out part of Mercy Hospital and the city's corporation yard that holds city vehicles.
"It would be extraordinarily difficult and costly to replace that asset and we can't be without it," said Alan Tandy, Bakersfield City Manager.
The city was hoping the state's High-Speed Rail Authority would wait to make a decision. There are concerns high-speed rail doesn't have the funds to complete the project so it's unnecessarily scaring residents.
"They don't have the money to build it so why are they casting shadows on the values of these properties?," said Tandy. "It's premature and unnecessary."
"As Bakersfield City Council, we are going to fight tooth and nail to make sure high-speed rail doesn't disrupt anyone's lives in Bakersfield," said Maxwell.
There is a meeting Thursday at 10 a.m. in Fresno at the City Council Chambers. The plan is not supposed to be voted on until May.
Even if it passes, there is no word on when the project would begin.