City renews rail high-speed rail ties

The City Council on Tuesday reaffirmed Glendale’s relationship with a regional high-speed rail agency by voting to approve $26,214 in membership dues.

Glendale had been at risk of getting booted off the Orange Line Development Authority after City Council members refused to budge in their disapproval of a proposal to lift a $100 cap on stipends for board meetings.

However, since the Orange Line Development Authority has not changed its payment policy, the Glendale City Council approved paying the dues to keep the city’s membership current.

The authority began in 2003 to explore the possibility of a high-speed rail line between Orange and Los Angeles counties that was expected to cost more than $19 billion. Glendale first joined in 2008 in hopes of having some pull when it came to choosing the 18 proposed train stops. At that time, Glendale, one of 14 member agencies, paid $61,112 to join the authority.

In 2010, the Orange Line Development Authority suggested changing the $100 per meeting stipend for board members. That and the reputation of some agency member cities, such as the city of Bell, was unacceptable, said Councilman Ara Najarian, who first raised the pay issue.

“I think we sent the message by not ratifying,” he said.

The Glendale City Council on Tuesday approved the new agreement, which keeps the $100 cap on a 3-0 vote. Mayor Laura Friedman and Councilman Frank Quintero were absent.

Quintero is Glendale’s representative on the board.

The proposed high-speed rail would have a top speed of 240 miles per hour, with an average speed of 70 to 90 miles per hour, according to a city report.

A statewide high-speed rail project has encountered severe roadblocks amid criticism over its ballooning costs and timeline. The tab for that project has roughly doubled to $98.5-billion, according to the latest estimates based on expensive designs to achieve the highest-possible speeds.

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