Despite a low priority rating, Glendale officials this week were told that they still are in competition for funding for a commuter rail system.
Glendale leaders have long complained that the city was unfairly slighted in 1983 when the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission assigned a high priority to construction of a commuter rail line to Pasadena, rather than Glendale.
But Richard Stanger, the commission’s director of rail development, told Glendale City Council members during a city transportation study session Tuesday that the low rating is no longer significant. “High priority, low priority is less and less clear,” said Stanger, who urged the city to continue to work for early development of a rail system.
Pasadena was one of three destinations targeted for initial construction of a proposed 150-mile rail system in the Los Angeles Basin. Early priority also was given to proposed routes in the San Fernando Valley and along the new Century Freeway to Los Angeles International Airport and Marina del Rey.
The Transportation Commission is expected within a year to select which of the routes will receive funding from the Proposition A half-cent gas sales tax authorized by voters in 1980. It is estimated that about $800 million will be available for construction projects through the year 2000--not enough to fund all three proposals.
Stanger encouraged Glendale officials to join forces with Pasadena and Highland Park in lobbying for construction of the northeast route out of Los Angeles. He said the key to construction of a route to any of the northeast communities depends upon getting funding for a transit line from the Metro Rail station at 7th and Flower streets downtown to Chinatown.
“It is important for Glendale, Pasadena and Highland Park that that segment be built,” Stanger said. Once the link to downtown is decided, he said the communities could then fight it out to determine which one will receive the first commuter rail service.
Commission officials in 1983 said Glendale had little chance of getting a light-rail system in less than 20 years because of the city’s low priority rating. Glendale officials have attributed the rating to the city’s laxity in lobbying for commission support.
Pasadena, on the other hand, has been vociferous in its support of a light-rail system. Glendale City Councilwoman Ginger Bremberg this week described Pasadena’s campaign as “extra lobbying behind the scenes.” She said Glendale was “out in left field” when priorities were assigned by the commission.
Pasadena is participating in a joint study with the Transportation Commission on potential light-rail routes within Pasadena connecting to the proposed commuter line to Los Angeles.
Following Pasadena’s example, Glendale last year voted to split the $200,000 cost with the commission for a similar study in Glendale, even though no route is being considered to link the city with a proposed rail line. City officials said the study, expected to be completed within nine months, would allow the city to act quickly should funds become available for a transit corridor to Glendale.
It was during a study session with the city’s light-rail transit consultants Tuesday that the county commission official offered the city hope. “What we are doing in Pasadena is very much to your advantage,” Stanger said. “Stay up on what we are doing and work with Pasadena. Together you represent substantial interest.”