Glendale OKs rail crossing upgrades

Glendale officials took the final steps this week to move ahead with upgrading another railroad crossing in the San Fernando Road Corridor — a project that could eventually make the area quieter for nearby residents.

The $2-million project at Broadway Avenue/Brazil Street is one of many railroad crossing improvements on the city’s radar. Construction work has already begun on crossings at Glendale and Sonora avenues.

“I know we have been looking forward to getting those improvements,” said Councilman Ara Najarian, who with his colleagues on Tuesday voted to give the final go-ahead on the project.

Making the crossings safer could qualify the city for a “quiet zone.” Engineers are required to sound their horns before each rail crossing, but quiet-zone status can be earned with certain safety improvements, including upgraded signals and vehicle gates, or by eliminating crossings altogether.

The train horns have long been a source of complaints from residents in Pelanconi Estates, which lies just across San Fernando Road from the railroad track north of the Broadway/Brazil crossing.

While the crossings on Glendale and Sonora avenues are within Glendale’s territory, Broadway/Brazil and others require cooperation with multiple agencies.

In the case of Broadway/Brazil, Metrolink is paying for a portion of construction improvements, which include new gates, sidewalks, roadway pavement, street lighting, a center median strip and signs, according to a city report.

The east side of the crossing is inside the city of Los Angeles, but Glendale is going ahead with upgrades to its side rather than wait for its neighbor to agree to make changes.

“The project is now ready to go forward,” said Glendale’s chief assistant director of community development, Philip Lanzafame.

Glendale officials do not yet have a timeline for Broadway/Brazil construction. They plan to meet with Los Angeles officials and a public utilities mediator soon to hash out issues; however, they said if L.A. doesn't budge, Glendale and Metrolink will continue with their own upgrades.

“We're prepared to do as much as we can with or without L.A.,” said Glendale Public Works Director Steve Zurn. “It's our intention to move forward with this as quickly as we can.”

Other multi-agency crossings include Doran Street and Chevy Chase Drive. The future of the Doran Street crossing — immediately south of Pelanconi Estates and one of the most dangerous in Metrolink’s system — depends on a forthcoming decision by the California Public Utilities Commission.

Some stakeholders, including Glendale, have called for its closure due to its proximity to a propane storage facility on the Los Angeles side of the tracks. Los Angeles officials have lobbied to keep the crossing open because it acts as an entry point for emergency first-responders to a relatively confined industrial area.

The $2 million for the Broadway/Brazil project comes from redevelopment money put in escrow in 2007. Although redevelopment agencies are being eliminated due to a new state law that directs their funds to other public agencies, Glendale can still use the funds because of contracts hammered out years ago.

Glendale has agreements with the California Public Utilities Commission and Walt Disney Co. regarding Broadway/Brazil, according to a city report. The city promised Disney it would improve the crossings as part of a development agreement for the studio’s 125-acre Grand Central Creative Campus.
 
 

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