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Rail quiet zone plan put on hold in Glendale

Glendale’s plan to apply for a “quiet zone” for trains passing through the San Fernando Corridor faces yet another delay.

Officials this week confirmed that a major safety improvement project for the Broadway/Brazil Street crossing has been delayed while the city of Los Angeles waits for the approval of $900,000 in federal funding to complete the portion of the project that falls within its border.


It’s the latest in a series of delays that could push completion of the project — a vital part of creating a rail corridor safe enough to relax rules requiring trains to sound their horns where tracks cross streets — back to spring 2014. For residents who’ve been pushing for the designation, it was unwelcome news.

“I am very disappointed to have L.A. create such a disconnect between entities when we should be working together for the safety and benefit of the community,” said Jolene Taylor, president of the nearby Pelanconi Estates Homeowners Assn., which for years has been lobbying for the quiet zone.


Before the city can apply for a quiet zone designation from the Federal Railroad Administration, several crossings have to undergo safety enhancements. Work has already been completed at some crossings and future improvements are in the pipeline.

But even after the work is done, a quiet zone isn’t guaranteed.

Glendale has long been dealing with issues blocking safety enhancements to the Doran Street crossing, considered the most potentially dangerous in the San Fernando Corridor. Citing its proximity to a propane storage facility on the Los Angeles side of the tracks, Glendale wanted to close the crossing altogether. But Los Angeles fought to keep it open because it is an access point for emergency vehicles.

The two sides have since put a plan in place to build a grade-separated crossing as one option to improve safety and to maintain access for vehicle traffic. Since the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority in April secured $40 million to construct either an underpass or overpass, Broadway/Brazil has become the new trouble spot.


Metrolink has been leading construction work on the crossing but work stopped about two weeks ago, said Public Affairs Director Jeff Lustgarten. Although most of the work under the jurisdiction of Metrolink and Glendale has been completed, improvements on the Los Angeles side have been delayed.

According to a statement from the Los Angeles Department of Transportation, their work — traffic signal, signage, road and striping improvements — won’t be complete until the spring of 2014. And officials don’t plan to advertise for a construction contractor until January because they are awaiting approval of $900,000 in federal grant funding.

Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian, who has been championing the crossing improvements, said he was disappointed by the delay.

“It’s about improving safety and quality of life,” he said.


Despite the delay, it would still have been years before Glendale could apply for a quiet zone.

Although the MTA has pledged to work on Doran Street, it could be at least two years before environmental and engineering documents are finished, and even longer before construction begins.

As of Tuesday, the Broadway/Brazil Street crossing was still closed to traffic. A timeline for it reopening to through traffic was not immediately available.

While the Broadway/Brazil Street crossing has remained closed during heavy construction, Metrolink is working with both cities on an interim solution to reopen the passageway to traffic in the meantime. The interim fix would likely involve re-striping and some type of traffic control, according to Lustgarten.

“Safety is our paramount concern, and the crossing can be reopened to vehicle traffic once all of the parties have reached agreement on the best and safest approach to the interim solution,” he said.


Follow Brittany Levine on Google+ and on Twitter: @brittanylevine.


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