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Businessman offers $1B bullet train investment

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One frequent criticism of the California High-Speed Rail Authority is the lack of private-investment interest so far in its proposed high-speed train plans for the state.

Now, a businessman touting a possible Madera site for a train-maintenance station is dangling such an investment to the agency.

“We are convinced of the viability of California,” said Ed McIntyre, a partner in the the proposed Gordon-Shaw heavy-maintenance facility site. McIntyre told the authority’s board today in Fresno that he and his partners are prepared to commit up to $1 billion in private-sector investment through development of their site.

McIntyre said that in addition to an estimated $668 million to build the heavy-maintenance facility – a station planned to be located somewhere in the San Joaquin Valley to service trains for the statewide train system – his group is also willing to build a maintenance-of-way facility, where crews would be based to maintain the tracks and right-of-way. Together, the two facilities would add up to a commitment of about $1 billion.

“To those who want further study or planning ... I think we’ve planned enough,” McIntyre told the board. “I encourage you to move forward” with approving the environmental impact report for the Merced-Fresno section of the system.

So far, the rail authority has not decided where it would prefer to have the heavy maintenance station, considered something of an economic golden goose by economic development officials up and down the valley because of the prospective permanent jobs it could provide. By some estimates, such a station would employ 1,500 or more workers and serve as a magnet for related industries.

Officials in Merced, Madera, Fresno and Kern counties have been actively courting the rail authority to attract the maintenance station.

McIntyre’s announcement certainly caught the rail board’s attention. “Could you repeat that number?” vice chairwoman Lynn Schenk of San Diego asked McIntyre.

The reporter can be reached at tsheehan@fresnobee.com or 559-441-6319. Follow him on Twitter: @tsheehan. This story resulted from a partnership among California news organizations following the state's high-speed rail program, including The Fresno Bee, The Sacramento Bee, California Watch, The Bakersfield Californian, The Orange County Register, the San Francisco Chronicle, The (Riverside) Press-Enterprise, U-T San Diego, KQED, the Merced Sun-Star, The Tribune of San Luis Obispo and The Modesto Bee.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified the location of the proposed maintenance station. While the partners in the proposed Gordon-Shaw heavy-maintenance facility are from Chowchilla, their plan is to build on land in Madera if they win approval for the yard. Ed McIntyre, who made today's pitch, is from Madera.

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