California High-Speed Rail Updates

May Impact Elysian Park, State Park at Taylor Yards

by Andrew Garsten and Christine Peters

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At the Thursday, September 6, 2012 town hall meeting of the EPIA, the Outreach Team for the Palmdale to Los Angeles section of the California High-Speed Rail Project presented an update on the project. This is the second time that the Outreach Team has presented to EPIA, and the team is now conducting further studies of the alignment alternatives as it prepares the Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement for release to the public.

There were two major issues of interest to our community: The choice of route out of Union Station, and where the one and only San Fernando Valley stop will be as the train enters the Los Angeles basin in Sylmar from the Palmdale station.

The Union Station platform will currently need to be elevated to accommodate the intersections of MetroLink, Amtrak, and Metro sub-way system. As such, there are now two substantially different choices for consideration: A tunnel that would go from Union Station under Broadway and the Northeast Corner of Elysian Park and come to the surface past the 2 Freeway along San Fernando Valley Road, or a surface link that would go wide to the east of the “corn fields” then along the current southern border (LA River side) of Taylor Yards. As is the case for the entire High-Speed Rail proposal, both would be “grade separated” – meaning that the routes go under or over roads – no horns, noises or crossing barriers.

A tunnel carries some risk of unpredictable environmental impacts – like a possible impact on the flow of subterranean aquifers. It is also an alternative that is projected to cost $500 million more than the surface route. The surface route will go along the current southern border of State Park at Taylor Yards and the LA River adjacent parcels that the Taylor Yards Master Plan calls for acquiring as a “passive” recreation area – essentially dissecting the long term vision of the State Park. It will also introduce concerns regarding noise. However, since the grade separated trains will be decelerating to about 60 mph at this point, slower than the traffic on the 5 Freeway, noise should not be that significant.

There were three choices for a San Fernando Valley stop: The City of San Fernando, near the Burbank Airport, and a stop in between. It was expressed during the meeting that Burbank Airport is embarking on a significant “transit hub” project to connect the airport, Metro Link, bus service and Rental Car services, and that since it is likely that High-Speed Rail will displace some regional air usage, it would make the most sense to connect into the infrastructure this hub will represent.

The Palmdale to Los Angeles section Outreach Team is set to present again to the EPIA at the April 2013 Town Hall meeting with further input requested from the community. For more information, click here.

To send your comments or opinions to the California High-Speed Rail Authority:

Dan Richard
Chairman, California High-Speed Rail Authority
770 L Street, Suite 800
Sacramento, CA 95814