Among them is Kole Upton, a farmer in Chowchilla whose family has put on hold plans to replace almond trees. The rail authority is busily signing contracts with engineering firms and contractors in hopes of getting shovels in the ground in the next few months.

"When they come in with these routes they put a cloud on your land," says Upton, who works with his brother and son on the 1,400-acre family farm but has devoted much of his time to fighting high-speed rail.

Officials, Fukuda says, "don't understand the emotional toll this has taken on the community."

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