“Because of the speeds that we’re talking about here, everything will be entirely grade-separated,” Tempelis told the Burbank City Council last week during one of three presentations his group has made in the area this month. “In other words, high-speed rail can’t share the road network with vehicles, and it can’t share any pedestrian access at all. So you can think of this as a sealed cocoon, if you will, with access at stations along the corridor.”
Some officials and community stakeholders took issue with the $3.2-billion price tag for the local section of the corridor, asking why the authority wouldn’t slow trains down to share tracks with Metrolink and freight operators, instead of building dedicated high-speed tracks.
“I still don’t quite understand why they are doing this in this area,” said Glendale City Councilwoman Laura Friedman, who suggested cutting off high-speed operations while trains move through urban centers. “Why don’t they start it in Palmdale?”
Rail officials contend that they need the high-speed capabilities to meet their target travel times for express trains, and that maintaining the technology and dedicated tracks through urban areas is critical to avoiding unnecessary delays.
Although high-speed trains will share existing rail lines with commuter operators between San Jose and San Francisco, that region’s existing rail system is large enough to accommodate the new, electric-powered high-speed trains, said Jeffrey Barker, deputy executive director of the authority.
Still, the authority is open to adjusting maximum speeds and working with communities to solve concerns about construction, Barker said.