While construction has been going on for years to create a car pools lanes in each direction and improve the flow of traffic on the I-5, a side benefit has been the raising of the railroad tracks above Buena Vista eliminating one of the most dangerous intersections in the city.
Elevating the railroad tracks allows for grade separations to enhance safety for vehicles crossing at two locations: first at Buena Vista Street and San Fernando Boulevard, where fatalities have occurred at the at-grade crossing, and in the future at the new I-5 interchange under construction at Empire Avenue.
There have been numerous accidents over the years that have resulted in four fatalities and many serious injuries according to officials at the ribbon cutting for the new elevated separation.
Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes commented from the podium that in his 32 years as a firefighter he had been at many accidents at the crossing. He also noted that not only would accidents decrease, the constant blowing of train horns will no longer occur at the crossing creating a quiet area.
The event in Tuesday was hosted by California Department of Transportation, District 7, City of Burbank, Federal Highway Administration, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), Southern California Regional Rail Authority (Metrolink)
The realignment and elevation of the railroad tracks adjacent to the freeway and the construction of a railroad grade separated crossing at Buena Vista Street are part of the I-5 / Empire Avenue Project.
The project, with an overall cost of $355 million funded by Metro, Federal Highway Administration and Caltrans, will enhance I-5 through Burbank and improve traffic circulation by adding carpool lanes in each direction between Magnolia Boulevard and Buena Vista Street.
The project will also construct a new full interchange at Empire Avenue, reconstruct the Burbank Boulevard overcrossing and realign ramps, while constructing an auxiliary lane between Burbank Boulevard and Empire Avenue.
The project will relieve congestion, improve traffic flow and provide easy access to the Hollywood Burbank Airport and shopping centers. The work related to the railroad alone is nearly $40 million. The separation of trains and pedestrians will lead to a safer environment for millions of people.