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On the right track

Ben Godar

As the railroad tracks along Chandler Boulevard are cleared away to

make room for a bike path, some local historians are hoping to hold

onto a small piece of the old rail line.

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JDK Railroad Materials began dismantling the track in January, and

since then, Joy Forbes, the city’s principal planner of the Chandler

Bikeway Project, said she has received about 20 calls from people

interested in what would happen to the old equipment. She said the

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level of interest on this project has been much higher than on a

typical development.

“People have more of a historical bond with the railroad than they

might with a building,” she said.

Burbank Historical Society Founder Mary Jane Strickland contacted

JDK, seeking to get a piece of the rail for the society’s collection,

but has not received anything.

Burbank Aviation Museum Director Ron Dickson is hoping to get one

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of the signal lights still standing along the tracks for the museum’s

collection.

“I think it’s a fit for the aviation museum because Lockheed used

the tracks to ship raw materials into the plant,” he said.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority owns the signal lights,

according to city officials. MTA officials said they were unsure when

they will be removed and what would be done with them.

The railroad ties have already been removed, and Forbes said she

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believes construction of the bike path will begin in November.

Completion of the 3-mile path is expected sometime in June.

The path, which was originally conceived about a decade ago, will

run along the old rail line from Clybourn Avenue to Mariposa Avenue,

and then continue on to the Metrolink station. The city of Burbank is

paying about $1.7 million toward the $2.7-million project, with the

rest coming from the MTA, which jointly owns the land the tracks are

on.

The track was built in the late 1930s and regular rail traffic

there ended in the 1950s, city officials said. Because it was a

branch line, it was built with materials left over from the main

line, and Forbes said some of the materials date back as far as the

1910s.

Other than the age of the line, Strickland said there was little

that tied it strongly to the history of Burbank.

“We had someone walk along the length of the track, but they

couldn’t find anything that said ‘Burbank’ on it,” she said.


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