By Steve Scauzillo, August 5, 2014
An artist rendering showing the the Burbank area. The California
High-Speed Rail Authority is holding a string of meetings in Southern
California on the controversial project, starting Aug. 5 in Santa
Clarita. The scoping meetings are aimed at gathering public comment.
SANTA CLARITA >> More than 75 people attended a meeting Tuesday
examining the Los Angeles County portion of the proposed San
Francisco-to-Los Angeles high-speed rail project that includes the
option of tunneling under the San Gabriel Mountains.
attendance Tuesday were homeowners from Santa Clarita worried about one
of two similar routes following the 14 Freeway taking their homes.
Sandra Kassai had just heard about the proposed bullet train from the real estate agent selling her home in Sand Canyon.
“We are trying to sell our property. We had a potential buyer.
Then our agent called and said he had cold feet and pulled out,” Kassai
The buyer told Kassai’s agent he had heard 12 homes
would be taken by the train and didn’t want to risk buying her home. She
wasn’t sure if her home would be taken and came to the meeting for some
However, officials explained the process moves slowly.
By fall, all the comments on the local segments will be presented to the
CHSRA board and then two separate environmental impact reports will be
The entire 800-mile project from San Francisco to San Diego is scheduled for completion in 2029.
the meantime, we will have to wait. It will take, one, two or three
years,” Kassai said with frustration in her voice. Her son said he
believes their home will be 20-30 feet from the path of the train.
Authority is currently constructing the rail line in the Central Valley
and is working on gaining environmental clearance for the rest of the
Bay Area to SoCal route.
One problem is how to get from Palmdale in the Antelope Valley to the
San Fernando Valley, a 45-mile journey. Originally, the Authority
planned to bring the train along an S-curve paralleling the 14 Freeway
but residents from Sand Canyon and Santa Clarita council members
objected, saying these two closely related routes would take out homes,
churches and come too close to schools.
Now, for the first time, the CHSRA has proposed an alternative.
It will study a tunnel under the mountains for a more “direct route”
from the Palmdale Transportation Center to the Burbank Airport. The
tunnel route is supported by the city of Santa Clarita and Fifth
District County Supervisor Michael Antonovich.
Michael Hogan, a
member of a committee formed with the help of the city to organize
resident concerns, said the city and residents prefer the alternative
tunnel route. “Yeah. That would be fantastic,” Hogan said.
Attendees were directed t
o fill out comment cards and place them
in the slot of two different boxes on site, one for the
Palmdale-to-Burbank study, and one for the 15-mile Burbank-to-Los
Angeles study. Michelle Boehm, CHSRA Southern California Regional
Director, said she did not know how much a tunnel under the mountains
would cost, only that a possible alignment would be examined as an
alternative to going through Santa Clarita.
Susan MacAdams, the
former High Speed Rail Planning Manager at Metro, said the tunneling
proposal would cost 10 times as much as the surface route and that
tunneling would be problematic because large, boring equipment must
clear a path beneath the 5 Freeway and major flood control channels.
“Like all other ancient river basins throughout Los Angeles
County, there is a mixed face of debris: large boulders, soft sand and
occasional deposits of tar and oil. Not good for tunnel boring machines.
Not recommended,” MacAdams wrote in a letter to the Federal Railroad
The $67.6 billion project has its share of opponents.
Dunham, R-Turlock, a member of the House committee for Transportation,
has asked the FRA’s Office of Inspector General to open an investigation
into the misuse of high-speed rail funding.
“I am a strong critic of High Speed Rail. As Chairman of the Rail
subcommittee I have led the Congressional effort to ensure no more
federal dollars are allocated to High Speed Rail in California until
they fulfill the promise that was made to voters with Prop 1A. The cost
of the project has more than tripled and has consistently been bogged
down with delays, missed deadlines and short cuts,” Dunham wrote on his
Boehm told those gathered the rail project will receive
extra funds from the state’s Cap and Trade program where polluters pay
for emissions, as announced last month by Gov. Jerry Brown, who supports
the project. Those sales will begin in January. The extra cash could
mean construction could begin simultaneously on different parts of the
She also said the project could link in the future to a proposed bullet train from Palmdale to Las Vegas.
you can take the high-speed rail not only from L.A., San Francisco and
San Diego but you could also take it to Las Vegas,” Boehm said.
meeting was the first of seven scoping meetings planned this month by
the California High-Speed Rail Authority. The next meeting will be 5:30
p.m. Wednesday in Burbank at the Buena Vista Branch Library, followed by
a meeting Thursday at the Chimbole Cultural Center in Palmdale at the
same time. More meetings are planned next week.
The rest of the meeting schedule is as follows:
Aug. 11, Acton-Agua Dulce Library, 33792 Crown Valley Road, Acton
Aug. 12, Sylmar Public Library, 14561 Polk St., Sylmar
Aug. 14, Lake View Terrace Recreation Center, 11075 Foothill Blvd., Lake View Terrace.
Aug. 19, Los Angeles Union Station, Fred Harvey Room, 800 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles.