After a judge this week issued an injunction effectively halting progress on a planned Walmart adjacent to the Empire Center, a spokeswoman for the retailer called it a “shortsighted” stall tactic.
Actually, the delay is working out to be more of a prudent turn of events, given the fact that we all now know just how intrusive the massive carpool lane project on the Golden State (5) Freeway has shaped up to be.
Even if Walmart decides to appeal the injunction — imposed to allow for the outcome of a lawsuit filed to force the city to address concerns about the mega retailer’s impact on traffic and local businesses — a grand-opening date of sometime in late 2014 will surely be pushed back.
Given the fact that the carpool lane and bridge realignment project likely won’t be finished until early 2015, the Walmart delay probably isn’t a bad thing. There’s little doubt that if a new Walmart were to open adjacent to an already cramped Empire Center served by a horribly constrained Scott Road, the impact to traffic and public patience would be furiously negative.
In that sense, the delay probably is for the best since it will allow a major traffic impediment — heavy construction on the I-5 and ramp closures — to be cleared first.
So while the current round of litigation appears able to achieve little else beyond a delay — and perhaps some street improvements — the inevitability of a Burbank Walmart will, in the end, likely benefit from a protracted “estimated time of arrival.”