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MTA derails Chandler bikeway

June 10, 2000

Paul Clinton

CIVIC CENTER -- Spurred by residents who want a bicycle path, Burbank

officials will continue pushing for the Chandler bikeway project even

though the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has rejected the city's

latest design plans.

Instead of rewriting the landscaping plan, Burbank will appeal to MTA

Chief Executive Officer Julian Barnes for approval in a letter from Mayor

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Bill Wiggins, officials said.

In the letter, which could be sent as early as Monday, Wiggins will

ask the MTA to approve the Chandler project with a number of elements

that don't conform to the agency's design guidelines, said Joy Tuncay,

Burbank's Chandler project manager. The 3-mile long bike path would

replace rusted railroad tracks running down the center of Chandler

Boulevard.

Already six years in the planning, the $2.2-million project hit

another snag in April when the 11-member MTA board -- which includes the

five Los Angeles County Supervisors and Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan

-- approved a change in the agency's design guidelines.

Though Burbank's plan, which was submitted in December, runs askew of

those guidelines, city officials said they don't intend to revise the

proposal.

"They didn't clearly look at the plans we have," Tuncay said. "We

really feel that the design we have is consistent with the overall intent

of the guidelines."

Burbank must secure MTA approval for the project since the parties

co-own the railway property. The MTA owns 59% of the 3-mile Chandler

transit corridor from Clybourn Avenue to Mariposa Street. Burbank's share

is 41%.

MTA Chandler project manager Lynne Goldsmith said she told city

officials about the landscaping guidelines during several fall 1999

meetings.

"I try to get together with the project manager, so they don't fully

design something ahead of the game," Goldsmith said. "We thought we had

been communicating with them."

The MTA leveled several complaints at Burbank's landscaping scheme,

Goldsmith said. The agency bristled at plans to install trees and low

brush close to the center of the Chandler median instead of along the

edges of the 36-foot wide median.

The MTA and Burbank bought the Chandler corridor in 1991, the

transportation agency using money raised from state rail bonds. The MTA

has said it wants to install a transit project on Chandler to connect the

North Hollywood Red Line depot with Burbank's Metrolink station. By 2020,

whether the bike path is built or not, the property is likely to be used

for a San Fernando Valley east-west transportation corridor, Goldsmith

said.

With that in mind, a Burbank citizens advisory committee recommended

on Oct. 19 a plan placing the bike path just off the median on the south

side of Chandler. But after angry objections from south side residents,

the City Council approved a center-line bike path.

Michael Bandiera, a Niagara Street resident who sat that committee,

said he has been frustrated by the lack of progress. As the delays drag

on, the vacant railroad tracks continue to blight the neighborhood, he

said.

"It's just an eyesore," Bandiera said. "I always describe it as a

Berlin Wall that separates one side of Chandler from another."

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