Bakersfield church is against high-speed rail

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Lawmakers and the community have joined forces to speak out against the High Speed Rail project.

Now that Congressman Kevin McCarthy has been chosen as the Majority Leader, he has vowed to do everything in his power to block any federal funding for the bullet train.

His announcement has offered some hope to a local church fighting to stop the project.

The latest proposed path would put the bullet train just a few hundred feet from the church.

Pastor Mark Harrison at First Free Will Baptist Church says the train would be too close for comfort.

"This is a place where families need to know they have ease access to, that it's a safe environment for children," said Pastor Harrison.

The church has been in the east Bakersfield neighborhood for more than six decades.

"When you have worship service, we're just wondering how we're going to do that with this massive bullet train going through," said Pastor Harrison.

The First Free Will Baptist Church on California Avenue is in the middle of a legal battle with the High Speed Rail Authority.

They are waiting on a decision about funding for the project from the state Court of Appeals.

The state is trying to get $8.6 billion in bonds approved.

"As we're arguing in court the state's premature drive to get this massive amount of high-speed rail bonds approved by the courts and sold is impossible as a matter of law because the state is trying to speed past key checkpoints of accountability," said Harold Johnson, an attorney for Pacific Legal Foundation.

The law firm representing the church held a press conference Friday morning and were hoping to raise awareness about the issue.

Assemblywoman Shannon Grove is also standing behind the church.

"It's truly a David and Goliath story, especially with this church and everyone affected by high-speed rail or opposed to high-speed rail can stand up and let their voices be heard," said Grove.

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