LAKE FOREST : City Delays Approval of Rail Overpass


Much to the exasperation of Metrolink rail officials, the City Council this week delayed approving a commuter rail bridge over Lake Forest Drive, saying residents haven’t been given proper notice.

“People who need to know about this work have not been notified by the city or your agency,” Mayor Marcia Rudolph said. “Why is this all of a sudden in our hands? Where is the public input?”

The rail overpass would join an existing commuter rail bridge over Lake Forest Drive between Jeronimo Road and Muirlands Boulevard. Metrolink officials say two lanes of the busy roadway would be closed intermittently for up to six months.


Southern California Regional Rail Authority officials said that under state law, they could charge the city about $80,000 in construction fees unless the bridge was approved immediately.

State law permits the rail authority to charge 10% of the total project costs, a charge that is usually waived, said Lou Cluster, a project engineer for the rail authority. “If we experience delays . . . we will have to revisit why Lake Forest should be exempted from these costs.”

However, a rail authority spokesman contacted Thursday said that “chances are pretty much zero” that the agency would be charging Lake Forest for any portion of the bridge costs.

“We just wanted them to know that we waive these costs to be a good neighbor,” said Francis Oaxaca, a spokesman for the rail authority, a five-county agency that manages the Metrolink commuter rail line. “It was not a threat.”

But that was how Rudolph perceived Cluster’s statement.

“If this costs us a few bucks, that’s OK,” she said. “I understand the implied threat, but our people need to know” about this bridge project.