Henry R. Perea, a longtime passenger train advocate, is the newest board member of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.
The state Senate appointed Perea to the position Wednesday.
“I’m excited to be part of a team that is going to make critical decisions moving the project and Gov. (Gavin) Newsom’s vision for it forward,” Perea said. “When I got the call, I was pleasantly surprised.
“Making high-speed rail happen is not just vital to the Valley’s economic development but also to connecting the state and expanding high-speed rail across the country.”
Perea’s Deep Rail Roots
Perea, a former Fresno city councilmember and Fresno County supervisor, has spearheaded efforts to bring high-speed rail’s heavy maintenance facility to Fresno. In addition, he has served on various boards overseeing the management of Amtrak passenger trains servicing the Valley and the Bay Area.
His rail roots run deep, as his father worked 35 years for the Southern Pacific Railroad.
Perea has steadfastly defended California’s high-speed rail project despite its delays, cost overruns, and poor management. The latest cost estimate is $77 billion — $20.4 billion to complete 171 miles of track from Merced to Bakersfield by 2028.
“People have to remember this is the biggest infrastructure project in the United States today. There are going to be problems and there have been. You acknowledge them and you fix them,” Perea said earlier this year.
Perea’s appointment gives the CHRA board a distinct Valley flavor. Fresno businessman Tom Richards already serves on the board. In addition, Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula of Fresno is an ex officio board member.