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Burbank, Los Angeles County officials discuss transportation and homelessness

Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger met with the Burbank City Council Thursday to talk about ongoing issues that affect both the city and the entire county.

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Council members brought up several topics, such as the lengthy 5 Freeway project, possible double-tracking of Metrolink’s Antelope Valley line and the ongoing housing shortage and homelessness issue in the region, and asked the supervisor if there were ways to address those issues.

Councilman Jess Talamantes told Barger the county needs to make sure Caltrans finishes its Empire Avenue interchange and Buena Vista Street project before the state agency gets started with the highly anticipated and dreaded demolition and reconstruction of the Burbank Boulevard bridge.

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Barger told council members she has been disappointed with Caltrans’ delayed work on the project. She said she often takes the Golden State Freeway and doesn’t like driving through the stretch that goes through the San Fernando Valley because of the ongoing work.

In addition to finding out what the timeline is for those projects, Councilman Bob Frutos asked Barger if there was a way to receive funding to clean up the post-construction debris left behind by Caltrans at Buena Vista and San Fernando Boulevard.

Sticking with the topic of transportation, Frutos said the double-tracking of Metrolink’s Antelope Valley line from Roxford Street in Sylmar to Brighton Street in Burbank is necessary to bring residents who work in Burbank, downtown Los Angeles or the northeast San Fernando Valley to their destinations more efficiently.

Frutos said having two tracks on that line would help the city and county encourage workers to take Metrolink to work instead of driving on the 5 Freeway.

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Barger said she has concerns about the state’s high-speed rail project, which she thinks will not reach Southern California. She added she and her staff will continue to push for the double-tracking of the Antelope Valley line.

“It just does not make sense to invest in an infrastructure when we already have something in place that needs to be brought up,” Barger said.

One of the largest issues affecting the county is homelessness, and Vice Mayor Sharon Springer told Barger that Burbank should be getting its fair share of the money the city will be generating through the Measure H tax, approved by voters during the March 2017 election.

Burbank is expected to generate about $6 million this fiscal year, but, so far, the city has received $77,000 from Los Angeles County’s housing authority to fund the city’s Homelessness Incentive program.

Springer suggested the county look into working more closely with faith-based organizations to possibly provide temporary shelter for the homeless.

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