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Officials to mull rail station in valley

California's planned 800-mile high-speed rail system will include one station in the valley along the statewide route.

June 30, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago, christopher.cadelago@latimes.com

DOWNTOWN — High-speed-rail officials next week are slated to consider signing off on four alternatives for a single station in the San Fernando Valley, including a possible stop near Bob Hope Airport.

Representatives of the California High-Speed Rail Authority had planned to recommend two stations to the board of directors as part of the 800-mile system. But after hearing public concerns about parking, traffic and connectivity, they elected to whittle it down to just one station in the valley, local officials said.

The four alternatives, expected to go before the board July 8, are: the Pacoima Wash; Tujunga Wash and Branford Street in Los Angeles; MacLay Street and Hubbard Avenue in San Fernando and San Fernando Boulevard between Hollywood Way and Buena Vista Street in Burbank, said Greg Herrmann, the city's community development director.

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Rail representatives opted to consider the stop near Bob Hope Airport after city officials argued that a proposed $120-million regional transportation center there should not be isolated from the high-speed rail.

"One thing we can say is they are being very receptive to our concerns, which include traffic and the possibility of having to acquire property," said Burbank Councilman Jess Talamantes. "But there's a lot of information that they have to provide us. Nobody has a crystal ball, and right now we're speaking in unknowns."

The planned $40-billion high-speed-rail system, capable of shuttling passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2 hours, 38 minutes, is expected to be completed by 2020, with up to 10 trains per hour whizzing through urban areas at speeds topping 150 mph.

Engineers had considered more than a dozen station options in the San Fernando Valley and have continued to adjust based on the feedback of local governments, residents and stakeholders said at a recent public meeting in Burbank.

The latest options show flexibility when it came to responding to Burbank's requests, while Glendale officials have expressed frustration with the proposed distances from their major employment hub.

Rail representatives had indicated a preference for station alternatives in Burbank along the San Fernando Road corridor, either in the downtown area or near Glendale.

"I guess I am not happy that the current options are much further out from Glendale," said Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian, who serves as a director for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. "We are a large population center and large employment center. This does not seem like a wise decision at this point."

David Kriske, principal transportation planner in Burbank, said rail officials could wait until the day of the July 8 meeting to make their report to the board public. At the hearing, the board will weigh whether to sign off on the analysis for another round of public outreach.

"We're still not sure how this is necessarily going to impact Burbank. It's definitely something the city should look long and hard at," Kriske said. "Certainly there's traffic and potentially other issues. But if this in 20 years is something equal to an interstate highway, then it would have some direct benefits."

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