Metrolink safety fix could cost millions

Three options are aimed at keeping pedestrians from crossing tracks.

June 28, 2011|By Maria Hsin,
  • A man begins to cross the tracks soon after a train passes by at the Metrolink Station on North Front St. in Burbank on Tuesday, May 24, 2011. (Raul Roa/Staff Photographer)
A man begins to cross the tracks soon after a train passes…

With pedestrians continuing to flout crossing signals at the downtown Burbank train station, Metrolink has outlined three options for improving safety that range in cost from $3 million to $7 million.

Earlier this month, Metrolink conducted a safety review of the downtown station after reports that more pedestrians were illegally crossing tracks. Since January, five citations have been issued for illegal crossings. Three of those were in May when the Express Service began.

The downtown Burbank station is one of Metrolink’s busiest, and is Metrolink’s second-busiest “destination” station, behind Union Station in downtown L.A.

The priciest of the three safety options would involve eliminating the surface-level pedestrian crossing and installing a pedestrian underpass at a cost of $7 million.

The addition of a second elevator on the west side of the tracks would cost about $3 million, according to Metrolink, although Burbank Transportation Commission Chairman Paul Dyson said the addition probably wouldn’t improve safety.


Commuters who need to catch a connecting bus on either side of the track need to cross horizontally. For a commuter to ride one elevator up to the Olive Avenue overpass, and then take a second elevator down to the other side, would take too long, Dyson said.

Upkeep of a second elevator would also be cost-intensive, officials said.

“Operationally, it is not a preferred option,” said David Kriske, a transportation planner with the city.

The last option includes rewiring the warning system, which includes flashing lights and a loud bell, along with other “pedestrian treatments.”

The estimated cost for the electrical work and other treatments, which Kriske said could include gates, was listed at $4.6 million, although that would have to be clarified with Metrolink.

Pedestrians currently are asked to wait until a train departs the station before crossing, but many cross behind stopped northbound trains.

While doing so violates rules displayed on posted signage, “In other light rail stations, that’s a common practice,” Dyson said.

The Express Service schedule also plays into commuter behavior, Dyson added.

He noted that from 6:45 a.m. to about 7 a.m., there is a period of approximately 15 minutes during which commuters only have approximately 45 seconds to cross legally.

Burbank officials still need to review the options further before issuing a recommendation, Kriske said.

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