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Bullet train revision would send railway underground from Palmdale to Burbank

The California High Speed Rail Authority redrew its proposed routes for the Burbank-to-Palmdale stretch of the state's bullet train in an effort to address concerns from residents impacted by the project, officials said this week.

However, some residents and elected officials from the northeast section of the San Fernando Valley aired their displeasure and skepticism of the "refined" routes during a meeting of the San Fernando Valley Council of Governments on Thursday.

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The revised routes, which are between 35 and 45 miles in length, are proposed to have the bullet train travel underground for most of its run from the Palmdale station to the Burbank Station, which would possibly be located next to Bob Hope Airport.

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Dan Richard, chairman of the High Speed Rail Authority, said that a supplemental alternatives analysis found no issues for the underground railway, in which some stretches could be as long as 16.3 miles.

However, there are certain sections along a route known as E2 that have tracks above ground, which some residents said will negatively impact the communities in the northeast San Fernando Valley, such as Shadow Hills, Lake View Terrace and Sun Valley.

Additionally, the route would involve tunneling under mountainous areas of Angeles National Forest.

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"I am deeply disappointed in the HSR Authority's decision to move forward with these routes through the Angeles National Forest. California needs high-speed rail — but it needs to be done in the right way, with proper thought given to how a particular route will affect communities, open space and environmental justice concerns," Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) said in a statement Friday. "If a route through our communities cannot adequately address all of these important considerations, the HSR Authority may need to go back to the drawing board."

Some residents were concerned the route would have a negative impact on the groundwater and wildlife in the area.

"That route would destroy the open space in the Big Tujunga Wash," Shadow Hills resident Dave DePinto said, who was speaking on behalf of the resident group Save Angeles Forest for Everyone Coalition. "This is the gateway to the San Fernando Valley, Hansen Dam Recreation Center, [Angeles] National Forest and the Crescenta Valley."

San Fernando Mayor Joel Fajardo said more work needs to be done to address the concerns many residents still have with the routes. He also criticized the project, saying that it lacked the funding to make the proposal a reality.

Richard argued that the funding will "come about over time" and that even the state legislature does not know where the funding for the project will come from.

"The L.A. Metro system, when it started, did anybody know where all the money was coming from?" he asked. "Nobody knew that Measure R was going to be there."

Los Angeles City Councilman Mitchell Englander added to Fajardo's concern, saying that the high-speed railway project was like "building an airplane in midair without any landing gear."

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Authority officials are continuing to study the new routes and will present the plan for the Palmdale-Burbank route at a meeting on April 12 at the Anaheim Convention Center.

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Anthony Clark Carpio, anthonyclark.carpio@latimes.com

Twitter: @acocarpio

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