One of Burbank’s Most Hazardous Elevators to be Replaced

The City will spend the elevator that connects Olive and the Metrolink station for close to $1.5 million (Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

When listening to the fire scanner, we hear one call over and over again for an elevator rescue.

We asked the Burbank Fire Department for a list of all of the calls they received for people trapped in non-working elevators since the start of 2023 and two elevators tied with the most calls, and both are owned and operated by the City of Burbank.

Burbank Metrolink Station elevator which connects the station to the top of the Olive Overpass and the elevator located in the City’s parking structure next to Islands Restaurant, were the two top elevators in trouble more often.

Burbank’s 26 year-old elevator at the Downtown Metrolink Station is scheduled for a makeover (Photo by Austin Gebhardt)

According to a City staff report, the Metrolink elevator is now 26 years old and one of the heaviest used in the City’s elevator system. “The elevator tower has a steel frame with a skylight and curtainwall glazing system. The glazing system’s waterproofing elements are deteriorated and no longer watertight. In addition, the elevator system has reached the end of its useful life and requires modernization,” was stated.

However, help is on the way for one of these troubled elevators that has hit the basement.

Last month the Burbank City Council voted to contract to build a new, improved elevator at the Metrolink Station.

City officials finally were able to secure a contractor for the project after, unlike the elevator, costs continued to rise. In November 2022, an engineer estimated it would cost about $970,000 to complete the job. Bids were asked for starting in November 2023 and had to be expended until mid-February to receive bids for the renovation. 33 potential contractors downloaded the documents for bidding, but only one submitted a bid, which was for $1,173.060, which was about 20% higher than the cost the City was anticipating. No other bids were received, so the City entered into a contract with Courts Construction Company to perform the work.

But there’s more. The contractor asked for a 15% contingency of $175,959, in addition to bringing the total to $1,349,019. An additional $80,000 is requested for deputy inspection services, consulting services, and construction management costs not included in the direct contract with Courts, bringing the total project cost to $1,429,019.

So what are we getting for close to 1.5 million dollars?

Courts Construction Company’s bid calls for “Restoration of the elevator tower waterproofing elements, building stucco finish, a full roof removal and replacement, repairs and/or replacements to exterior tiles, stainless steel trim and other aesthetic improvements, as well as painting the one pedestrian stair tower.

In addition to the elevator tower rehabilitation, the project will modernize all elevator systems, equipment, cab interior fixtures and finishes, cab cooling, fire/life/safety systems, elevator machine room cooling, and supporting infrastructure.”

Not mentioned is the upkeep, especially the cleaning of the inside of the elevator. When researching this story, the smaell of urine was prevalent when inside the elevator. One can only imagine how bad it would be to be trapped inside with that aroma for any length of time.

Work is projected to start in May and be completed by April 2025. During the construction, the elevator tower work will be facilitated by a scaffolding system designed, permitted, and erected by the contractor and will remain throughout restoration and construction.

Pedestrian access to the Metrolink station will only be available during construction from the station from the east, under the existing Olive Avenue overpass, via existing ramps to the southeast and southwest sides of the tracks and station.

Signs and warnings posted on the elevator at 133 E. Orange Grove in the parking structure next to Islands Restaurant (Photo by Austin Gephardt)

No mention has been given to one of the other elevators that tops the list of troubled elevators, which is located at 133 E. Orange Grove, next to Islands Restaurant. Currently, the city has closed the elevator to the public and posted caution tape and a sign that says, “DO NOT ENTER” on the door.

While the previously mentioned elevators are the most problematic for trapping people inside, requiring rescue by the fire department, fire officials have documented a total of 83 calls in the past 14 months for help by people trapped.

Elevators owned by the City of Burbank are the largest offenders by far, with 21 different calls being made. Besides the parking structures (9 calls) including people trapped in elevators in City Hall (1), the Community Services Building (1) and the Police and Fire Services Building (3).

Burbank Schools are not stopping on all floors either, with calls for the District Headquarters on Olive (3) and Burbank High School (2). Hollywood Burbank Airport also had five calls during the time period.

Besides the ones mentioned above, here are the other addresses of multiple elevator calls during the past 14 months:

150 E. Angeleno
201 E. Cypress
201 E. Magnolia
3425 Olive
3800 Alameda
501 S. Buena Vista
601 S. Glenoaks
819 S. Sixth

    Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center