The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority has cobbled together $40 million to build either an underpass or overpass that would improve safety conditions at one of the most dangerous railroad crossings along the Glendale-Los Angeles border.
Although the money is available now, it may be at least two years before officials complete environmental and engineering documents.
And it may be longer still before construction begins on the Doran Street crossing in the San Fernando Corridor.
“These are very complicated projects,” said Paul Gonzales, a Metro spokesman. Still, he said, finding the funding is “a very important step forward and it’s going to make this project a reality.”
Money for the project will come from a variety of sources, including leftover stimulus funding.
For years, fixing the crossing has seemed like a distant dream for Glendale residents living near the tracks who have been fighting to get rid of the almost constant blaring of horns from nearly 100 trains that pass by daily.
Glendale officials have been working with other agencies for years to improve several railroad crossings in the area, a first step before the city can apply for “quiet zone” status from the Federal Railroad Administration.
Train engineers must blow their horns at crossings until several safety improvements are complete and federal officials give the OK to silence the horns in the area.
While Glendale has made progress on other crossings in the corridor — some of which are currently being upgraded with new traffic signals, signage and street widening — Doran Street has long been the biggest hurdle.
At first, Glendale officials wanted to close the crossing altogether, but public safety officials said that proposal would block quick access to industrial buildings — including a propane facility — in Los Angeles.
In December, the California Public Utilities Commission approved a settlement between stakeholders that would convert Doran Street into a one-way westbound crossing — with emergency vehicles exempt — until a grade separation could be built.
To build that underpass or overpass, though, Glendale needed money.
“We’re going to make that money work as well as possible,” said Councilman Ara Najarian, Glendale’s representative on the MTA board of directors. “It’s a big relief for us.”
City, county, state and federal agencies have already funded four other railroad-crossing improvement projects totaling $17 million.
Construction is underway on crossings at Grandview and Sonora avenues and Broadway/Brazil Street. Those projects are expected to be finished in August, with work at Chevy Chase Street set to begin in September and be complete by November, said Glendale Public Works Director Steve Zurn.
Metro officials plan to begin meeting with stakeholders, including neighbors, regarding the funding sources and next steps in the coming months, Gonzales said.
Jolene Taylor, president of the Pelanconi Estates Homeowners Assn., said she is “cautiously optimistic” as the project proceeds.
“It’s definitely a step in the right direction for the quiet zone, but I will remain cautiously optimistic until I see the plans and see what kind of impact this will have on residents,” Taylor said.