High-speed rail officials’ plan to elevate crossings opposed by some Glendale residents


The California High-Speed Rail Authority has proposed building three elevated railways at three intersections in Glendale as a safety measure. However, several residents have concerns about the state’s plans and want officials to come up with something else.

About 30 residents gathered in a meeting room at the city’s Environmental Management Center Wednesday evening to listen to high-speed rail officials talk about the 12-mile Burbank-to-Los Angeles portion of a proposed railway that is expected to cut through Glendale.

The authority is planning to construct four grade separations in Glendale — at Sonora Avenue, Grandview Avenue, Flower Street and Chevy Chase Drive/ Goodwin Avenue. A fifth elevated railway is proposed to be built at Doran Street, but that project will be managed by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, known as Metro.

State engineers have proposed to elevate the train tracks at Sonora, Grandview and Flower by partially raising the railway and partially lowering the street by varying degrees.

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There are two path options rail officials are considering as high-speed trains travel from a proposed station in Burbank to Los Angeles Union Station. One option is to have the train run underground through Burbank for several miles until resurfacing at the tracks behind the Empire Center. The other alternative is to use the current rail right-of-way and use the elevated railway at Buena Vista Street, which was recently completed by the California Department of Transportation, and the elevated tracks at Empire Avenue, which will be constructed by the state transportation department in the future.

Resident Steve Mills said he was upset with the state’s proposal to have elevated tracks at Sonora, Grandview and Flower because he thinks having the trains — high-speed, passenger and freight — that high would project noise further out into the surrounding neighborhoods.

“It’s being designed in a way to save money at our expense,” he said.

Melissa de la Peña, the high-speed rail authority’s project manager for the Burbank-Los Angeles portion, said the rails are either lowered or raised as a safety precaution, to reduce traffic congestion and to improve the train service.

As the authority inches closer to completing a draft environmental impact report for this stretch of the project, it could be determined that the noise produced by the elevated trains — which could be between 15 and 30 feet above the ground — would require some type of mitigation. At that point, officials could recommend the construction of sound barriers, said Ali Mir, a regional consultant and environmental manager for the authority.

Besides the noise, some residents, including Patrick Masihi, think the grade separations would decrease property values in the surrounding area.

“There’s no question that property values are going to be impacted,” he said. “I have a state of California real estate license. I know about property values and what impacts property values.”

Since the high-speed train will not be making any stops in Glendale, Masihi and Mills said they would prefer the train go underground in the city.

“We have no utilities under Griffith Park,” Masihi said. “We have sophisticated technology and devices that can burrow through that mountain within a year. These people want to do it with the least amount of costs, but they don’t care about our property values, which is what we’re losing in the middle of this.”

Twitter: @acocarpio