Tunnel suggestion for bullet train draws mixed feedback at open-house meeting.
By Chad Garland, December 9, 2014
It could be the largest infrastructure project in the United States —
the first high-speed rail system in the country — and it's expected to
come to Burbank.
But high-speed officials are grappling with options to either build the tracks around the Angeles National Forest or under it.
On Monday, officials from the California High-Speed Rail Authority were
at the Buena Vista Branch Library to pitch multiple conceptual
alternatives for the bullet-train section running from the Palmdale
Transportation Center to a proposed station near the Bob Hope Airport in
“It’s a game-changer,” said Burbank City Manager Mark
Scott, looking over one of the video animations of a proposed route,
noting that it has the potential to make the airport the best
transportation hub in the state.
That route, a 45-mile line
proposed years ago, would follow along the curving path of the Antelope
Valley (14) Freeway. It was refined based on public feedback received
earlier this year, officials said, moving the path farther from the Lake
Palmdale Dam, for example, and adjusting where it crosses the freeway
An alternative through what is called the “east
corridor” was developed after feedback called for a more direct route,
officials said. It would cut a 35-mile path from Palmdale to Burbank by
tunneling under the national forest, with three possible approaches to
Two of those approaches call for tunnels under Shadow
Hills, but attorney Bill Eick, a board member of Shadow Hills Property
Owners Assn., said his organization will do whatever it can to oppose
“It’s a late-to-the-party proposal — not well
thought out — that is going to cause enormous damage,” Eick said after
submitting feedback at an open-house meeting on Monday.
he is afraid that the tunneling would disturb the landscape and water
table throughout the national forest and on private property in the
area. He also questioned the feasibility of the tunnels.
Richard Carney, project manager for the Palmdale-to-Burbank section,
said going underground through the national forest is feasible and would
prevent a lot of disruption to the natural resources on the surface.
said it may also require the proposed Burbank station to be
underground, but it’s one of several options for the public to consider.
“We need to put these things out there for people to give us feedback,” Carney said.
Boehm, Southern California regional director for the authority, said
the point of the community meetings is to establish “a back-and-forth
process” that she said is important “in order to build the best possible
“As you would imagine, those [communities] that are in
the direct conceptual routes are concerned,” Boehm said, but she added
that the process is meant to show the authority’s “flexibility ... and
willingness to listen and be creative as we move forward.”
said it’s important to create a transparent process leading up to the
development of the project’s environmental impact report, expected to be
in draft form toward the end of 2015. Throughout the process, the
public will be able to comment on the plans.
A final report on
the project’s environmental impacts is anticipated in 2017, with
construction slated to begin in 2018. The bullet train could be
operational by 2022 from Burbank to Merced. Then service from Burbank to
San Francisco in under three hours is expected to be available by 2029.
For more information about the Palmdale-to-Burbank section and links to video animations of the proposed routes, go to www.hsr.ca.gov. Then search for “Palmdale to Burbank.”