Smart Growth for California: Keep Bakersfield's High Speed Rail Station Downtown @ Truxtun

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The City Council’s F Street proposal is inferior to the proposed downtown station in almost every way. Fortunately, the final decision has not been made. You can still help stop this!

We all know that downtown Bakersfield has seen better days. Even today, the exciting pockets of downtown revitalization are surrounded by vacant storefronts and empty parking spaces. This gradual decay began decades ago when the 99 freeway was moved from Union Ave to where it is today. Now, as many urban areas across California are experiencing incredible rebirth, Bakersfield lags far behind.

Bakersfield has been given a remarkable opportunity to reverse this trend with the construction of high-speed rail. Best practices would have the station located at the heart of downtown Bakersfield, but the City Council is pushing hard for a location on the outer fringes of downtown, at the intersection of F Street and Golden State Highway (CA-204). This is a shocking policy reversal, as the City Council has lobbied for over two decades to have a station downtown, only to resist the California High-Speed Rail Authority once a downtown Bakersfield station was formally proposed.

The public has been asked to comment on the proposal up until January 16, 2018. To be better informed, please read the list below and sign the petition! Also, please consider emailing the HSR authority at Fresno_Bakersfield@hsr.ca.gov to voice your concerns. Moments taken to share your opinion will help preserve Bakersfield’s future!

The proposed F Street station is inferior to the downtown station for seven key reasons.

The F Street station will be less enjoyable/desirable for users of the High-Speed Rail.

  • Size: The station will be smaller, leaving less room for retail and other amenities
  • Alternative transportation accessibility: The F Street station is not accessible by foot or bike, and there are few amenities within close walking distance
  1. Riders will have to walk under highway 204 on the south side to get to the closest businesses, or over the Union Pacific railroad to the North of the station. The closest hotel is over a mile away.
  2. By contrast, the downtown station is near the convention center, the Rabobank arena, numerous hotels, downtown employment centers, restaurants and shops
  • Car accessibility: The F Street station is less accessible by car than the Truxtun Station.
  1. To reach the F Street location from West Bakersfield, HSR riders will not be able to take Westside parkway, as there are no Northbound ramps to the 99 freeway. Instead, they will have to drive on surface streets through neighborhoods to get to the station, which will likely lead to congestion problems throughout downtown and the surrounding neighborhoods
  2. The downtown station lies between major arterial corridors Truxtun and California Ave and it will be accessible from both streets, with a larger station concourse on the south side
  • Bus accessibility: The F Street Station design has limited access for public buses, such as the Greyhound, and it will not be linked to the Amtrak (as the downtown station would be)
  1. This goes against best practices and isolates the high-speed rail from other modes of transportation

The F Street option is more disruptive to businesses and communities than the downtown station.

  • F Street Demolitions: The F Street plan requires significant changes to existing neighborhoods and businesses along the proposed corridor
  1. Many businesses along Sumner Street will be demolished and the center of the street will be in the shadow of a large elevated high-speed rail track.
  2. The newly expanded Golden Empire Transit maintenance yard will have to be relocated to accommodate the F Street station.
  3. The F Street alignment requires the construction of a large berm through undeveloped farmland to connect the high-speed rail from the BNSF rail tracks in Shafter to the 99 freeway.
  • Most of the Truxtun/downtown route follows existing rail corridors or over parking lots.
  1. The downtown route has been revised to ensure that Mercy Hospital and Bakersfield High School will not be demolished or significantly impacted.
  2. The City council has objected to the HSR going through its municipal services  yard, which is little more than a parking lot that can still be put to the same use after a few HSR pillars are built through it
  • The F Street station will position the train tracks approximately 20 feet higher in the downtown area compared with the Truxtun Station. In many Central Bakersfield Areas, F Street HSR tracks will be  approximately 70 feet above ground level.
  • The noise from the HSR will not significantly impact life in downtown as it is quieter compared to the noise already coming from freight and Amtrak trains that currently operate 24-hours a day.

The F Street option will cause Bakersfield to miss out on the major redevelopment benefits that the HSR could bring to downtown.

  • Unfriendly design for overflow development from F Street proposal: The station is not designed to be walkable, making it unlikely that users will choose to live near it and businesses nearby will benefit from the people traveling through it
  • Limited F Street development potential: Much of the area surrounding the proposed F Street station is in the Kern river floodplain, limiting the development potential in the half mile and one mile radius for new housing and businesses
  • Increased housing construction and demand for downtown proposal: Vacant lots downtown have enormous potential for new urban housing developments and more restaurants and shops. Demand for these would greatly increase if downtown residents could easily access the high-speed rail

The F Street Station will ensure the loss of the Shafter Heavy Maintenance Facility (as the alignment bypasses the proposed site). This facility represents an economic boon for Kern County anticipated to generate  2,000 high-paying jobs in Kern County.

  • Lost and Foregone jobs: The F Street alignment bypasses a location close to 7th Standard, south of Shafter, that is the HSR authority’s top pick for a heavy maintenance facility. If the F Street alignment is chosen, this proposed maintenance facility will likely be moved to Fresno or North in the San Joaquin Valley.
  • Construction savings: This maintenance facility location is the only location where the land has been donated to the HSR authority, and the only proposed location that doesn’t require environmental cleanup prior to construction. It was also previously environmentally approved and is construction ready.  

The F Street proposal puts Bakersfield at a competitive disadvantage to other HSR stations

  • Other California HSR stations are better designed and linked to downtown amenities: Highly educated, well-paid workers that use the HSR to commute to LA or SF will opt to live other cities besides Bakersfield, cities with more accessible stations and more vibrant, walkable downtown areas

The F Street Station will cost more. Despite what the City Council argues, the F Street station will likely cost more than the downtown one. While the environmental impact report puts the downtown station’s cost at roughly the same as the F Street one, it fails to consider these two categories:

  • Necessary road reconstruction costs for F Street proposal:
  1. The cost of building a highway interchange at F Street
  2. Revisions to the intersection at 30th St
  3. The demolition and redesign of a newly completed section of 7th standard road to accommodate the different route
  4. Traffic disruption costs to people’s commutes during construction of this infrastructure
  • Uncalculated environmental cleanup costs of F Street proposal:
  1. There are significantly more sites of environmental concern along the F Street route, due to the presence of old industrial buildings along the proposed route and contaminants contained within them; cleaning up these buildings will likely be very costly
  • Lost and foregone economic growth downtown and the guaranteed loss of the Shafter Heavy Maintenance Facility.

Professional consensus is against the F Street alternative

  • The F Street proposal lacks the rigor of study that was given to the downtown station:
  1. The F Street proposal was put together in a small fraction of the time it took to investigate the downtown station proposal. This haste will undoubtedly lead to unforeseen consequences and extra costs
  • Top experts and international best practices are against the F Street proposal:
  1. Authorities agree that further fragmenting our public transportation system will hinder us from experiencing the full benefits that the HSR could bring to our city. Watch what top experts had to say about the F Street and Downtown Stations compared. 

Please sign the petition! Take 2 minutes to email a comment about why you disapprove of the F Street proposal to the HSR Authority (Fresno_Bakersfield@hsr.ca.gov). Your comments will help make the final decision. If you feel especially passionate about this, voice your disapproval to the Bakersfield City Council.

A few minutes today will help put Bakersfield on the right trajectory for years into the future!



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