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Burb's Eye View: Road signs warn of a traffic nightmare

April 08, 2014|By Bryan Mahoney
(Steve Greenberg…)

When San Fernando Boulevard underneath the Golden State (5) Freeway overpass closes next month, it will be closed forever, forcing Burbank neighborhoods to cope with an undeniable increase in traffic for at least two years.

Yet many neighbors and businesses in the area still don’t know that stretch of road is about to be wiped off the map.

Through the city’s website, through emails, through community meetings and with recently installed signs, the news of the San Fernando Boulevard closure has been no secret, per se. There are many maps, presentations and FAQ sheets on the official project website, i-5info.com/magnolia-boulevard-to-buena-vista-street.

But this week I talked to several neighbors and commuters who either didn’t know the closure was happening so soon, or they didn’t know where all that traffic is about to go.

On the official I-5 info site is a very detailed map of the detour route.

Currently, to get from the Bob Hope Airport area to downtown Burbank, it’s a straight shot down Thornton Avenue to Lincoln Street. A three-way stop some 30 feet away lets you connect to San Fernando Boulevard, where you can drive under I-5, continue down toward McCambridge Park and eventually hit the mall.

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That San Fernando connection will be gone next month. San Fernando Boulevard will instead connect directly under the highway and railroad tracks to Empire Boulevard, creating a straight link between the mall area and Empire Center.

That will take two years. Until then, cars and trucks will be given a detour route that can easily be avoided if they cut through a residential neighborhood and pass by an elementary school.

The posted detour will send cars up Buena Vista toward Glenoaks. A 2007 traffic study predicted 700 more cars during morning rush hour and 900 in the evening. Before these motorists even get as far as I-5, they’ll be adding to the existing traffic visiting a hotel, a gas station and the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank.

“Our summer program is huge here — you’re talking about 400 kids a day,” said Shanna Warren, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club.

The detour will then send cars underneath I-5. Motorists who want a quicker route toward downtown will likely find Winona Avenue, a quiet residential street that contains several dozen houses, Bethany Korean Church and the main access for George Washington Elementary School.

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