CHSRA updates Sun Valley Neighborhood Council on the latest stages of the Palmdale to Burbank project section
The California High-Speed Rail Authority provided their latest update to members of the Sun Valley Area Neighborhood Council February 9 on the progress of the Palmdale to Burbank Project section of the California High Speed Rail. The purpose of the meeting was to give involved members of the council an opportunity to see the latest developments in planning, implementation and what steps lie ahead in the building process and how it will translate to residential areas in and around Sun Valley. This would include the communities in Lake View Terrace, Shadow Hills, La Tuna Canyon, and Sunland-Tujunga.
Public Outreach Coordinator Genoveva Arellano kicked off the proceedings, giving a general outline of the stages the CHSRA are in as it pertains to planning and implementation on the project and informed all in attendance that the required environmental documents needed to move forward with the construction process were nearly complete and ready for the public to view. Arellano summarized the many meetings that had been held up until this point in cities from Palmdale, Santa Clarita, and all the way to Burbank to speak and hear from the citizens of those specific communities. “In speaking to concerned members of the communities in all the cities involved in the project, there are a full range of issues we are aware of,” said Arellano. “The Input of the community has been received and implemented into our plans. Our goal is to get everyone on the same page.”
Southern California regional director of the CHSRA Ladonna DiCamillo was next to speak at the meeting. She provided a brief overview of the origins of the CHRSA and what the end goal of the project was to improve the air quality and traffic congestion of the greater Los Angeles Area. She outlined the four sections of the project that stretch 164 miles in total, with the Palmdale to Burbank region being the second section of the project. DiCamillo informed the participants that work had already begun in the Central Valley where there has been significant environmental clearing along the planned rail route with station planning beginning to move forward.
DiCamillo also spoke of the fiscal investment being put into the Southern California portion of the project. The project has an investment from the State government of over 9.1 billion dollars, with the goal of trying to reduce risk and cost in the project delivery process, while also investing in local safety and environment improvements.
CHSRA regional director Rick Simon was next up to speak. Simon went into further detail about the actual planning process of the route and how the project would proceed in building the rail system above and below ground in sections stretching across the section. Simon said the goal was to make it possible to commute from Palmdale to Burbank in thirteen minutes. For that to become a reality, the planning process included drafting six possible route alternatives to mitigate environmental hazards and or concerns along the most efficient route from one end of the section to the other. Simon said the CHSRA had settled on a route that went from Palmdale, cut through the mountains adjacent to Santa Clarita and eventually moves underground through Pacoima and the Sun Valley area before arriving at Burbank.
Simon also spoke of the use of “Grade Separation” which was a term the CHSRA uses to explain the ways they plan on separating the railways from freeway and heavy street traffic locations to ease traffic and air pollution in these high traffic areas. The presentation portion of the proceeding concluded with a video presentation that detailed a visual representation of the ultimate route of the Palmdale to Burbank section when it is eventually completed.
After the presentation, a few community members asked questions about the concerns they have about how the construction, potential pollution, and impact of the project on local area businesses in the path of the railway. When asked about potential noise pollution in the area, Simon remarked that the construction will be mostly underground in residential areas of the project and the technology used mitigates vibrations on the surface, as to leave buildings and residents undisturbed. Simon also assured members of the council that the tech used for the railway will not be the same as what Metrolink uses to detect disturbance along the railway, which could avoid a potential issue such as the plane crash that took place on the Metrolink track a few weeks back.
When questioned about how the CHSRA would address their claims of always using 100 percent renewable energy, Arellano stated that the team was still looking at how to keep that commitment and that they would have a better answer for that later. DiCamillo added that the claim of 7,000 new jobs being created was indeed 7,00 jobs and not 7,000 job years. Another concerned community member wanted to know what steps would be taken to ensure dangerous chemicals such as Nitrogen Dioxide would not be released into the community atmosphere during the construction of the railway project. The response the CHSRA gave was vague at best. “Before we do any construction, we will have to have permits that regulate chemical usage,” said Simon. “The State and local authorities will be tasked to make sure all construction is compliant to keep everyone safe in the process.”
The final question asked pertained to the impact of local businesses when construction calls for relocation. “We have a team that works with property owners to assess property values and to make sure anyone who is affected by relocation gets the help that is required,” said DiCamillo. “We are still a long way from that stage of the project’s footprint relocation services being a concern. We often do our best in these cases to avoid construction and acquisition in residential areas.” The CHSRA also addressed the intention to work with the city of Burbank to create opportunities in and around the area of the rail station when it is completed to foster business growth post construction, as it was already being done in the Central Valley region.
The meeting concluded with Arellano encouraging anyone who wanted to stay updated with the latest information to join the mailing list for future updates on the progress of the project. Arellano also stated that the environmental documents will be available for the public to see when they are released in late March. They will be available to view online, and in physical copy at local branches of the Public Library. The public outreach committee also encourages feedback for the 45 days after the documents are made available to the public.
If you would like to join the email list to stay informed of any updates on the railway project, contact the CHSRA Palmdale to Burbank Project section here: