The fate of High-Speed Rail through Bakersfield was discussed in Fresno. Dozens from Kern County spoke at the High-Speed Rail Authority's board meeting Thursday.
Many were against the recommended routes around Shafter and through downtown Bakersfield, saying the track would destroy farmland and communities.
"You, the High-Speed Authority are a thief in the night," said Mary Jane Fugundes, a Hanford resident.
It was a meeting full of emotion as many in attendance have homes and businesses at stake.
"We don't want you," said Karen Allen, a resident of Corcoran. "We don't need you here. Please go somewhere else."
Many from Kern County spoke to the state High-Speed Rail Authority Board, asking it to change the recommended route from the Wasco Shafter Bypass to the BNSF route.
"The bypass alignment has a very devastating impact on our community," said John Guinn, Shafter City Manager.
"Everyone is in consensus that this alignment should go on the BNSF route on the existing corridor, not out through the countryside bifrocating hundreds of thousands of prime farmland, some of the best in the world," said Keith Gardiner, a Kern County farmer who stands to be impacted by both routes.
Farmers say the BNSF route would impact less farmland and mean zero road closures. The bypass, they say, would cause nearly than a dozen.
"We would have eleven closures in a rural area significantly impacting cars, trucks, tractors equipment in the area," said John Gardiner, Heritage Equipment Company.
While the bypass has been preliminarily recommended, the board is willing to consider other options before voting.
"As with any stakeholder feedback, we take it very seriously," said Lisa Marie Alley of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
The Kern Council of Governments also made a statement at the meeting, saying it will draft a resolution against the Wasco Shafter Bypass and the Bakersfield Hybrid that cuts through downtown.
"What we recommend is possible mitigations," said Bob Snoddy, Regional Planner for Kern Council of Governments.
The Authority is expected to preliminarily approve a route next month with final approval this fall, so there is still time for the route to change course.
"There is the possibility that as talks continue we look at other options that are out there," said Alley.