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Bob Hope Airport's connection to high-speed railway is still in the air

Bob Hope Airport's connection to high-speed railway is still in the air
An artist's rendering shows a proposed high-speed train traveling along the coast of California. (California High-Speed Rail Authority)

If the state's bullet train is going to have a station near Bob Hope Airport, the two transportation facilities should connect, airport Executive Director Dan Feger said this week. However, first things first — the airport and the city need to hash out the details of a proposed 14-gate replacement terminal at the airfield, he added.

That was the position Feger outlined during a presentation to the Burbank City Council on Tuesday. Council members had asked what the airport was doing to collaborate with officials from the California High-Speed Rail Authority regarding a possible station on the rail segment that will run from Palmdale to Burbank.

"It would be our hope that we can find common ground for an agreement to build a replacement terminal building," Feger said. "That's the first step — we need that step — and with that step behind us, then I think we should be having these kinds of discussions [about high-speed rail]."

Officials from both the airport and the city are working to set up a televised, joint public meeting next month at Buena Vista Library, where the two parties can outline their proposals for an agreement to allow development of the replacement terminal to proceed.

Meanwhile, city officials said they have applied for $1.4 million in grant funding from the High-Speed Rail Authority for station-planning work.

"We would love the authority to join the city of Burbank to really look at the future of that airport collaboratively," Mayor Bob Frutos said. "We do have to embrace this."

Earlier this month, the High-Speed Rail Authority published a report, detailing the route and station options that officials will continue to explore in an environmental review. There are three potential station options near Bob Hope Airport — two underground options and one below-grade, which would be lower than street level.

The below-grade option would run along San Fernando Boulevard, west of the intersection with North Hollywood Way, north of the "B6" property, which the airport owns in trust and began marketing for sale this week.

An underground option running roughly parallel with the airport's runway would be located approximately where the "B-6" property abuts what's called the "adjacent property," where airport officials have said they hope to construct the replacement terminal.

A second underground option runs along North Hollywood Way, south of the intersection with San Fernando Boulevard, alongside the "B-6" property.

None of the options is expected to displace existing residential or commercial property owners, but only the below-grade option would avoid displacement of industrial uses. Each option is expected to have noise and vibration impacts that could affect from roughly 100 to 580 residences, depending on which station location is selected.

The station option selection will depend, in part, on which of the 10 potential routes is chosen. Four route options follow along the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway and six would involve tunneling under the Angeles National Forest.

However, the station option running parallel to the runway is compatible with the most route options — eight — according to the state report.

Feger said the station plans are still uncertain, making it difficult to map out any interconnection between the bullet-train station and the air terminal.

Councilman David Gordon said the station could be a historic opportunity and told Feger, along with the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority President and Pasadena Councilman Steve Madison, "we would want your input."

Madison said the airport authority views it as "imperative that we replace our terminal," but he said the airport is communicating and coordinating with the High-Speed Rail Authority about the station.

The discussion on Tuesday followed a Sunday breakfast with Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank) that brought Frutos and Burbank Councilman Jess Talamantes together with Madison and airport authority board Vice President Frank Quintero of Glendale for the first conversation between airport and city officials on the replacement terminal since negotiations stalled in February.

It was a step to "get us back to the table for conversation," Frutos said.

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