City guns for transportation funds

Burbank and Glendale are trying to get a bite of out of the grant money apple as Los Angeles County transportation officials prepare to review myriad infrastructure improvements.

Both cities have submitted four applications each for thousands in grant money from the county Metropolitan Transportation Authority for projects ranging from bike paths to improved traffic signals, representing a renewed effort among cities to pool their resources in applying for precious fewer dollars.

One of Burbank’s proposals — changing the designation of a bicycle path along Kenneth Road to a bicycle boulevard — is part of a joint project with Glendale to improve traffic safety.

The project, which will allow bicyclists to ride straight through rather than have to stop at every block, will also force vehicles to slow down with the addition of traffic circles, said Burbank Assistant Transportation Planner Cory Wilkerson.

“Partnering with the city of Glendale for this project gives us a competitive edge,” he said.

Traffic safety has continued to be a concern for the thoroughfare that is often used in lieu of Glenoaks Boulevard, and many residents have voiced support of speed-limiting measures, city officials said.

The 3.4-mile Burbank section will cost around $720,000, with Glendale submitting its own application for its $279,900 portion of the project.

The proposed projects, ranging from bike paths to pedestrian bridges in Burbank, also reflect a lower-cost strategy to edge out the competition.

The price tags for the city’s four projects range from $700,000 to $770,000 and would require a 20% local funding match.

But Burbank Councilman David Gordon said that while all four projects would be beneficial, the city may have a hard time with even that proportion of cost-sharing.

“In any other economic time, with grant funding available, I would say yes, they would be worthwhile,” Gordon said.

He asked city officials to postpone applying for the $2.97 million in funds to avoid a possible $600,000 contribution from Burbank when looking at multimillion-dollar budget cuts elsewhere in the city, but he was rebuffed by his colleagues on the council.

Even if the applications are approved, cities would see the funding until 2016, when the financial landscape could be much different, Burbank Principal Planner David Kriske.

Project price tags in Glendale have a much larger range, with a low $279,000 for Kenneth Road all the way up to $5.6 million to replace 10 Glendale Beeline buses.

Glendale is working with Los Angeles County and La Cañada Flintridge for improvements to traffic signals along the Foothill Boulevard corridor — trumpeting the regional significance of the projects to make them more competitive.

“We’ve been looking more intently at potential joint projects with our neighbors recently,” said Glendale Public Works Director Steve Zurn. “We’re always in the market for grant funds to replace buses and improve traffic safety.”

Burbank also submitted applications for a bicycle and pedestrian bridge across the Los Angeles River at Bob Hope Drive to connect the Burbank Media District with existing bicycle lanes along Forest Lawn Drive, Griffith Park and an extension of the Los Angeles River Bikeway.

Glendale hopes to upgrade its traffic operation center, and Burbank would like to install an upgraded system for 59 traffic signals along Glenoaks Boulevard, Buena Vista Street and Hollywood Way.

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