Letter to the Editor: Transportation Commissioner Says Why BRT is Good for Burbank

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Letter to the Editor:

I am an avid bicyclist who commuted to work daily for over ten years from my home in the Hillside neighborhood of Burbank to the bakery I owned in North Hollywood.  While most of this route is covered by the Chandler Avenue bike path, there are several stretches that require riding on city streets.  One evening, commuting along Burbank Boulevard, I was hit by a parked car that flung open its door and sent me flying into traffic.  After recovering from two broken ribs and a punctured lung I began to look at how I could advocate for safer streets. I engaged with local elected officials and gathered letters of support from my neighbors to win appointment to the Burbank Transportation Commission, on which I have served since October 2022.

Serving as a Transportation Commissioner has been very engaging and rewarding, affording me the opportunity to review and advise on important initiatives, none more so than Metro’s BRT. This new rapid bus line with dedicated lanes will have an immediate positive impact on our streets and will be a catalyst for rebuilding an aging and dangerous piece of city infrastructure, the Olive Avenue Bridge.

Metro’s BRT plan will convert two traffic lanes, primarily along Olive Avenue, into dedicated bus, bicycle, and emergency vehicle lanes.  This will result in a better transit experience, a new bicycle path on a street that lacks one, and potentially faster emergency response times for ambulance, fire, and police responders.  All of this funded primarily by Los Angeles County.   

The BRT will also enable Burbank to get funding to rebuild the Olive Avenue Bridge, an important piece of city infrastructure that is aging and dangerous.  Built in 1958 the Olive Avenue Bridge (and its twin, the Magnolia Bridge), is seismically unsafe, has narrow sidewalks with low railings that pose a danger to pedestrians, and is poorly connected to the train station directly below the bridge.   Over the past decade Burbank has unsuccessfully sought funding to rebuild this bridge.  With a BRT Station, this bridge would become a multi modal transit hub connecting the BRT to Metrolink and making rebuilding the bridge eligible for State and Federal funding.

Converting two traffic lanes will have an impact on car travel on Olive.  However this impact will not be gridlock.  Estimates, based on similar transit projects, suggest that car trips will be slowed by less than 2 minutes.  Two minutes of individual travel time in exchange for better transit and safer cycling, and the opportunity to build a new Olive Ave Bridge is win – win for Burbank and the region.

On March 26, the Burbank City Council will be voting on supporting the NoHo to Pasadena Bus Rapid Transit Corridor.  If you live or work in Burbank and believe in better transit and safer streets, consider attending the City Council meeting either in person or online and sharing your opinion. Community input is important.  

Eddy Polon
Burbank Transportation Commissioner