The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority is looking to push forward with its planned pedestrian bridge over Empire Avenue, which would connect the Metrolink station south of Bob Hope Airport to the airfield's transportation center.
Don Sepulveda, executive officer for regional rail at Metro, told residents during a community meeting at the airport last week that the $15.8-million project is in the design phase, expected to be completed in June. Transportation officials hope to break ground in December.
The bridge is expected to be completed by December 2018.
The pedestrian bridge is intended to better connect — and protect — train passengers who are traveling through the airport. It would extend from the moving walkway that connects the airfield's terminal to the transportation center, cross over Empire Avenue and the railroad tracks and connect with the north and south platforms of the Metrolink station via an elevator and a set of stairs.
Sepulveda said Metro is looking to update the signage at the station, which is sometimes unclear and can make it difficult to navigate the facility.
"The problem is that the station is 25 to 30 years old," he said. "It hasn't really grown with the times."
Metrolink riders have to walk across the railroad tracks using an at-grade crossing to get to either the north or south platform. When the bridge is completed, they will no longer need the crossing, so Metro plans to install fencing between the tracks, Sepulveda said.
There had been skepticism from residents regarding whether Metro could pay for the project after the California Transportation Commission in January cut funding for some of the state's road and transit projects by $754 million over the next five years.
Sepulveda said the pedestrian bridge was "not on the chopping block" and has funding through Measure R, federal money from the Surface Transportation Uniform Relocation Assistance Act and state money from the Interregional Transportation Improvement program and the Public Transportation Modernization, Improvement and Service Enhancement Account.
There were concerns the project would not benefit Burbank residents and that it would be more difficult for them to get to the station from the airport.
Mark Hardyment, the airport's director of government and environmental affairs, said the project is geared toward encouraging people outside Burbank to use public transportation, such as Metrolink, to get to the airport.
"The benefit Burbank residents get from this connection becoming more seamless is that, as it becomes easier for people to use, more people will use it, which means less people will use the public streets and freeways," he said. "That means the local residents will see less traffic."
Carpio writes for Times Community News.