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Residents rail on high-speed plan

Worries over sound, money, environment heard at meeting

Posted: November 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 16, 2012 2:00 a.m.

From left, Don Widell, Mike Harrington and Sally Harrington look at a map of the project at Meadowlark Elementary School in Acton on Thursday.

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Residents of Acton and Agua Dulce cited safety, environmental and community concerns during a meeting Wednesday night held to raise awareness about the local impacts of California’s proposed high-speed rail project.

About 100 community members gathered in Acton’s Meadowlark Elementary School for the meeting, which was put on by the local advocacy group Canyons and Valleys of Acton and Agua Dulce.

California voters originally approved the high-speed rail plan in 2008. As proposed, the rail plan would connect the San Francisco Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim, with additional links at some large state population centers, including Sacramento, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Orange County and San Diego.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority, which oversees the project, released a revised business plan for the project in April. In that plan, the High-Speed Rail Authority estimated the project would cost $68.4 billion and be completed in 2028.

Kathleen Trinity, the chairwoman of Canyons and Valleys of Acton and Agua Dulce, said the high-speed rail would drastically impact the rural environment of both communities.

“The march of urbanization will speed up,” Trinity said.

Attendees also criticized the potential cost of the train. Dale Bybee, another member of the group, said the train will have to be paid for on the backs of taxpayers since “the state and the federal government are broke.”

“This is the high-speed rail to debt,” Bybee quipped.

Mark Distaso, a member of the Acton-Agua Dulce Unified School District Board of Trustees, said the train is also a one-way road to disaster for the communities.

“What you’re actually going to do to these towns — whether you admit it or not — is kill them slowly with a million cuts,” Distaso said.

Pam Wolter, chairwoman of the Acton-Agua Dulce Brokers Association and a 24-year resident of Acton, said the train would negatively affect both the towns’ property values and their rural feels.

“Who is going to want to come to Acton and Agua Dulce looking for the peaceful country we all enjoy?” Wolter asked. “It won’t exist.”

Trinity said the group hopes to hold another, similar meeting sometime in December.




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