Friday, December 24, 2010

Helendale may join Barstow opposition to DesertXpress


Helendale is located between Barstow and Victorville, not connecting to Interstate 15.  Please see the following article from the Desert Dispatch.

Helendale may join Barstow’s opposition to desert high-speed train

2010-12-22 16:27:16
HELENDALE • The Helendale Community Services District may soon be passing a resolution that would oppose a proposed high-speed train project that would connect Victorville to Las Vegas, allowing passengers to bypass Barstow.

The City of Barstow has opposed the DesertXpress project because of the potential economic effect the train could have on the city. The City Council commissioned an economic study released in October that stated the DesertXpress could eliminate up to 33 percent of the car and bus traffic that passes from Southern California to Las Vegas.

Members of the Helendale CSD are expected to pass a resolution at their next board meeting in January that will support the city of Barstow in its quest to stop or delay the project.
One of the board directors said he wanted to pass the resolution because of the potential economic effect to the High Desert area.

John Higdon, Helendale CSD board director, said he felt the project would negatively affect the economy throughout the High Desert. He also said he did not feel that the DesertXpress would create a large number of permanent jobs.

“I believe the amount of jobs is way overstated in the end,” said Higdon.

Although the DesertXpress is facing opposition from different communities in the High Desert and recently lost its company president, a spokesperson from the company said Wednesday that the project is still scheduled to begin construction next year.

Former DesertXpress Enterprises President Tom Stone announced his retirement last week after working on the project since the inception. The company released a statement about Stone’s retirement on its Web site.

“[Stone’s] commitment, leadership and expertise has established a strong foundation setting the stage for a groundbreaking next year on the first dedicated high speed rail project in America,” the statement read in part.

DesertXpress spokesperson Lee Haney could not confirm who the next company president would be, but said board chairman Tony Marnell has been leading a lot of the work on the project.

Haney said that the draft process for the environmental impact report for the project has been closed and DesertXpress is hoping to issue a final environmental impact report in the next few weeks. Once the report is finalized, Haney said the company would work to finalize the project permitting early next year and begin construction later in the year.
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