Officials with the California High-Speed Rail Authority gave an overview of the project that will link San Francisco to Los Angeles by 2029, and discussed a possible station location in Burbank during an open house at the Holiday Inn Burbank Media Center on Wednesday night.
The authority will plan, design, build and operate the first high-speed rail system in the nation that will connect the major regions of the state and eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego. As trains are capable of traveling more than 200 mph, the ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles will be made in under three hours.
Officials predict that along with creating jobs during the building stage and operation, the project will strengthen the economy, provide a cleaner environment by getting automobiles off the road and save fuel and time for people traversing between Northern and Southern California. A high-speed rail system will also ease the burden on air traffic.
Now in the planning stages, the authority is holding open houses to inform the public of alignment alternatives and station locations for the Palmdale to Los Angeles Project Section and acquire feedback.
In Burbank, the proposed location for the high-speed rail station is near the Metrolink station set to begin construction this summer at Hollywood Way and San Fernando Boulevard, said Michelle Boehm, the authority’s Southern California regional director.
“This will maximize the rail-to-rail connectivity for the Valley and L.A. County as well as air-rail connectivity with the airport, which is something very important in California and something we have not always been successful at achieving,” she said.
The high-speed rail system will bring people to local tourist amenities, like the airport, Universal Studios Hollywood and entertainment and other businesses without driving into the city, Boehm said. In the future, the goal is to provide that connectivity to other forms of travel — walking, cycling, buses or other forms of rail to get people to a destination.
Another benefit will be a reduction in green house gas emissions, she added.
“If we’re taking people off the roadway — a single person driving a car somewhere — and we are putting them on very efficient electric high-speed rail, we’re reducing green house gas emissions for all of L.A. County and that’s critical for us now and for our future,” she said.
Burbank’s new City Manager Mark Scott was involved over the last 3 1/2 years in the high-speed rail project in Fresno — the starting point — while he was city manager there.
Having the high-speed rail station near Burbank Bob Hope Airport is the most logical location in all of L.A. County, he said, but Burbank officials are vested with the obligation to make sure that it gets done so it will work for Burbank and the surrounding area.
“We had a pretty good working relationship with them in Fresno, but we told them what we wanted, and they gave us money to study it and to do it right and I think we made some real good progress,” he said. “So if that’s what’s going to happen here, I want to make sure that they work with us. They need us every bit as much as we need them. There needs to be a partnership there where they help support our efforts to figure out how to do it right.”
Authority officials will be reporting their findings from the five May/June open houses — held in Burbank, Newhall, Palmdale, San Fernando and Los Angeles — to its board of directors in June, and plan to have another round of public meetings in early July or early August.