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Opposition rises as Calif. high-speed rail begins

Juliet Williams, Associated Press

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) -- A dusty stretch of land in California's Central Valley is the starting point for one of the most expensive public infrastructure projects in America: a $68 billion high-speed rail system that would span the state.

Engineering work has finally begun on the first 30-mile segment in Fresno, a city of a half-million people with soaring unemployment and a withering downtown core.

Rail is meant to help this place, with construction jobs now and greater economic opportunity when it's finished. But the region that could benefit most from high-speed rail is also where opposition has grown most fierce.

In the five years since California voters approved building the nation's first bullet train, opposition has grown and the project has been changed, leaving many wondering whether voters will get what was promised.