Buena Vista crossing in Burbank to get long-awaited upgrades

A $3.2-million project for intersection and rail improvements at the rail crossing at Buena Vista and Van Owen streets is scheduled to begin in March after more than five years of trying to accumulate enough funding for the work.

The project has been on the books since 2005 and is tapping up to eight funding sources to break ground, city officials said.

“It’s something that’s been a long time coming and I’m ready to start construction as soon as possible,” Burbank Assistant Public Works Director Ken Johnson said.

Burbank officials also plan to improve traffic flow on Buena Vista with an additional left-turn lane on Van Owen. That could mean that the traffic light on Buena Vista will remain green for a little longer than it now does, Johnson said, thereby easing traffic flow.

The joint project with Metrolink, which is funding a majority of the work at Buena Vista and Vanowen, will include four pedestrian crossing protection gates and an upgraded train detection and warning system.

Metrolink spokeswoman Sherita Coffelt said the advanced safety enhancements, which also include traffic-control devices to direct motorists and pedestrians to safe places when a train is crossing, will go a long way toward making the at-grade crossing safer.

Since 2005, three vehicles have been struck at the crossing, killing one motorist, Coffelt said. The gates have been broken seven times in the past three years, either by vehicles trying to skirt around them or by vandalism, she added.

When the project is completed, traffic signals at the intersection will provide an advance warning of oncoming rail traffic, while upgraded gates should prevent motorists from getting onto the tracks, Coffelt said.

Concrete street panels were installed about five months ago to make crossing the tracks at the intersection smoother, he added.

The expense of

Burbank’s share of the project is close to $922,000. The city received a pair of grants totaling about $1.1 million to help pay for the project. Because the grants were written to cover 90% of the project’s expense, any overage will be returned to the grantor.

“Funding is always an obstacle whenever you’re making new upgrades because of our current economic climate,” Coffelt said. “But it’s definitely a win for the region … when we can get the funding to be able to make these types of safety upgrades.

-- Maria Hsin, Times Community News

Twitter: @mariahsin


Photo: A Metrolink train cross Buena Vista Street near San Fernando Road in Burbank. Credit: Times Community News

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