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Open Question: How Will High-Speed Rail Change Fresno?
In 2007, many thought a golf course named Running Horse would revitalize the southwest side of Fresno. The course was to be designed by golf legend Jack Nicklaus, and funded by then-developer Donald Trump. However, after getting the list of concessions that the Trump's team wanted, the community decided the tax breaks and the moving of numerous amenities including a veteran's home site was more than the community could do. Eventually, negotiations broke down and the site of the course became an almond grove.
Now some hope that high speed rail could revitalize the area. California has built track sections including some in Fresno, but enthusiasm for the project breaks on partisan lines. "High-speed rail evangelist Jerry Brown leaves the California governor’s mansion in January, to be succeeded either by Democrat Gavin Newsom, who generally supports the rail project, or Republican John Cox, who during a September visit to Fresno declared it 'a monument to corruption' and a 'train to nowhere,’" Suhauna Hussain and Joe Yerardi report for The Center for Public Integrity. These midterms will have a big say in the project's success or failure.
Meanwhile at the local level many in the area say Southwest Fresno has more pressing issues. The area is one of Fresno's poorest, and some in the area say a more equitable use of funds would serve those who have the least.
One Republican who does support the project is Fresno's Mayor, Lee Brand, who asked Fresno residents to be patient, that the investment in high-speed rail will pay off.