Development's traffic impact questioned

NBC Universal's expansion plan assumes public transportation use, officials said.

November 17, 2010|By Gretchen Meier,

City officials are looking into whether developers of a massive NBC Universal project are underestimating how the added traffic will affect surrounding streets in West Burbank.

The influx could be significant. The nearly 400-acre site for the NBC Universal Evolution Plan calls for 2 million square feet of new commercial development, including 500 hotel guest rooms and 2,937 residential units by 2030.

The site in Universal City is bounded primarily by the Los Angeles Flood Control Channel, Lankershim Boulevard, Cahuenga Boulevard and Barham Boulevard.


NBC has already proposed paying for wider streets to include double left turn lanes, right turn lanes and upgraded traffic signals, as well as increasing public transportation options. Those efforts should minimize the traffic impact to West Burbank, according to the environmental report.

But city officials say they're not so sure.

"We are generally satisfied with the manner in which they conducted the study," City Planner Michael Forbes said. "We do have some concerns with the assumptions that they used."

Those assumptions include assuming the new residents will use public transportation instead of driving their own vehicles.

Developers cannot require the new residents to use public transportation.

"We are looking to see if traffic generation is lower than it really will be or what they expect to be," said Forbes. "We need to look at the effect that assumption has on the impact they found."

Burbank traffic engineers have been working with Los Angeles for at least a year to ensure the traffic impact study conformed to local metrics, Forbes said.

The report predicts that out of the 21 affected intersections in Burbank, the project will only have a "significant impact" on Olive Avenue at the Warner Bros. Studio Gate 2/Gate 3.

Pat Gibson, president of Gibson Transportation, one of two agencies that drafted the report, said Burbank uses a specific set of criteria to determine traffic impacts.

"If you've got an intersection that's already busy, then they say you cannot add any traffic," he said. "If there's an intersection that no one uses, you can add traffic, but if you add more than 1% to 2% capacity anywhere, that's a problem."

The affected intersection faces what Gibson calls an incremental impact of 2% increase in traffic, but said the suggestion to widen Olive Avenue was rejected.

The Community Development Department is in the process of reviewing the report's findings.

Burbank Leader Articles Burbank Leader Articles