Metro officials expected to vote on closing rail crossings on San Fernando Road

Metro officials expected to vote on closing rail crossings on San Fernando Road
The Glendale City Council voted 5-0 Tuesday to install a final series of improvements at three local rail crossings the Federal Railroad Administration requires to establish a quiet zone. With heightened safety infrastructure in place, engineers will not have to honk as often to let others know they’re coming. (Raul Roa / Glendale News Press)

Metro officials are expected to vote Wednesday on whether to close two railroad crossings on the Los Angeles side of San Fernando Road to address longtime safety concerns, a move some nearby Glendale residents fear could result in heavy traffic on their streets.

Some nearby Glendale residents fear the closures could result in heavy traffic on their streets.

The at-grade crossings are at Doran Street and West San Fernando Road and, just down the road, at Broadway and Brazil Street, where there have been five fatalities.


Three options have been proposed, with the costs ranging from $64 million to $84 million.

The first option would elevate Doran Street with an overpass that would connect it to West San Fernando Road. Milford and Commercial streets would also be widened.

The second would close both crossings. With the absence of an access point at Doran, a proposed P-shaped connector would link Fairmont Avenue and West San Fernando Road. Broadway and Brazil would also be closed, and a clover-shaped connector would join Salem and Sperry streets.

The second option was the one recommended by Metro employees in a staff report issued last month because it would provide the largest safety enhancement and still allow for uninterrupted access.

But Jolene Taylor, president of the Pelanconi Estates Homeowners Assn., said closing Doran would force motorists and commercial truck drivers exiting the eastbound Ventura (134) Freeway at San Fernando Road to change their route to get on West San Fernando by taking Concord Street to Fairmont Avenue.

The P-shaped connector on Fairmont would allow access to and from West San Fernando but also add congestion to the surrounding neighborhood, Taylor said.

"It will reroute all that traffic onto a Glendale residential street … it's really going to impact the neighborhood," she said. "Not just Fairmont, but Green Street and Concord Street."

Councilwoman Paula Devine said additional traffic is her biggest concern.

"Any alternative that can keep all of the traffic away from that neighborhood is a major goal of mine," Devine said at a recent council meeting.

At the same meeting, resident John Kociemba suggested an alternative.

Instead of a P-shaped connector, Kociemba said a J-shaped connector would make it easier on residents.

Instead of letting drivers get from West San Fernando back onto Fairmont, the "J-hook" would lead them to where the Fairmont flyover ends and the street turns into Flower Street. Adding a "no left" sign at the terminus of the "J-hook" would prevent motorists from getting back onto Fairmont.

As for Broadway and Brazil, Taylor said it's too soon to close that crossing because of the $8 million in safety improvements recently implemented at the site.

Mayor Ara Najarian, who serves on Metro's board of directors and the Planning and Programming Committee that will review the issue on Wednesday, said the second alternative is a possibility, and Kociemba's plan could come up during next week's discussion.


"I think we're going to work within the framework of alternative two," he said.

But that's not his preferred option.

His preference is option three, which would close the Doran Street crossing and include a P-shaped connector. It would also include a road connecting Doran Street across the Los Angeles River to Zoo Drive.

At last month's council meeting, Councilman Vartan Gharpetian said this was his preferred choice as well because it would result in the least amount of congestion in the neighborhood.

"I think alternative three ... has less impact on Glendale," he said.

But after speaking with Los Angeles city officials, Najarian said the third option was unlikely because it would disrupt the L.A. River revitalization plan.

If the committee agrees on an option, it will be forwarded to the Metro board of directors.