Coalition of agencies hail upcoming rail crossing upgrades for Glendale corridor

About $17 million in safety improvements at four rail crossings along the San Fernando Road corridor in Glendale could begin next year, officials announced Thursday.

Planned upgrades at crossings for Sonora and Grandview avenues, Chevy Chase Drive and Broadway and Brazil Street include new automatic vehicle exit gates, handrails, sidewalks, pedestrian gates, traffic signal advance-preemption technology, traffic blank-out signals and curb and road widening.

Crews could break ground at the Broadway and Brazil Street crossing as early as January, officials said. Once that project is completed, crews will move to the Chevy Chase Drive crossing. Upgrades at the Sonora and Grandview avenues crossing could begin as early as March, officials said.

“It’s something that we needed to do badly in this area,” Richard Katz, chairman of Metrolink’s board of directors, said at the news conference in Pelanconi Park Thursday.

The park, he said, illustrated “the need for safe corridors” because it’s in a residential neighborhood and was less than a block away from the Grandview Avenue rail crossing.

The upgrades come after a long-running effort to improve rail safety along the Glendale and Los Angeles corridor.

Deadly Metrolink crashes in 2005 in Glendale — and then in 2008 in Chatsworth — strengthen the collective resolve “to prevent these types of accidents from ever happening again,” Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said.

The safety improvements were paid for through city, county, state and federal funds, officials said.

“This is a project that took a lot of work and a lot of people…but it’s finally come to fruition,” Glendale Mayor Frank Quintero said

New at-grade safety enhancements can already be seen at the $6.6-million Flower Street crossing in Glendale.

Similar improvements are expected to cost roughly $2 million for the Sonora Avenue crossing and $2.8 million for the crossing at Grandview Avenue.

Upgrades to the Chevy Chase Drive rail crossing were projected to cost $3.68 million, while improvements at Broadway and Brazil Street were estimated at $8.5 million.

The new safety improvements at the rail crossings bring the area one step closer to earning so-called “quiet-zone” status, which would allow engineers to pass through the area without sounding their horns as often — a welcome development for noise-wary residents who live in the Pelanconi Estates neighborhood.

“It’s a great start, but Doran needs to be addressed immediately,” said Jolene Taylor, president of the Pelanconi Estates Homeowners Assn.

The Doran Street crossing has been a contentious point for city officials and residents, who want to see it closed because of its close proximity to a propane gas facility on the Los Angeles side of the tracks. L.A. officials, which share jurisdiction of the crossing with their Glendale counterparts, want to keep it open for emergency responders to the constrained industrial area.

Negotiations over the fate of the crossing, deemed one the most dangerous in the Metrolink system, remain ongoing.

“That’s the missing piece of our series of crossings in Glendale,” said Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian, who also serves as a board member for the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “It is shared by the city of Los Angeles and Glendale, so there is nothing that can’t be done if intelligent minds get together and work on an issue. I am looking forward to the day we solve the Doran crossing issue and we will truly have a sealed corridor along the northern length, from Union Station through Glendale to Burbank."


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.


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