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Would Be Link to L.A. Subway System : Glendale-Burbank Light Rail Discussed

November 21, 1985|THERESA WALKER and BOB POOL | Times Staff Writers

Glendale and Burbank city representatives have met with Los Angeles County transit officials to discuss extending a proposed San Fernando Valley light-rail line east through the two cities.

A meeting was held last week with representatives from the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission and Southern California Rapid Transit District to discuss the possibility of an above-ground line running east from the planned North Hollywood Metro Rail station. From North Hollywood, passengers could transfer to the proposed Metro Rail subway headed to downtown Los Angeles or a proposed westbound light-rail line running across the San Fernando Valley to Chatsworth.

$30 Million a Mile

Such a light-rail route through Glendale and Burbank to North Hollywood was not included on the 1980 Proposition A ballot measure that added half a cent to the 6% state sales tax to pay for mass transit systems in Los Angeles County. Glendale and Burbank, therefore, might have to rely on their own money and contributions from the private sector to build such a light-rail link, said Rick Richmond, executive director of the Transportation Commission.

The estimated cost for a light-rail line is $30 million a mile, Glendale city officials said. But, before there can be serious consideration of an eastward line, a study to determine its feasibility and possible routes must be conducted--also at the expense of the two cities.

A Glendale-to-downtown Los Angeles route has been designated as one of 13 corridors in a planned 150-mile network of heavy- and light-rail systems planned with Proposition A money in greater Los Angeles. But the Transportation Commission rated that north-south route among the lowest in priority, and work on it is not expected to start for at least 20 years, if ever.

Traffic Problems

Glendale is trying to have the route's priority raised, said Kerry Morford, executive assistant of city public works. "This thing with Burbank," he said, referring to the possible east-west line, "is something else."

Burbank officials proposed the eastward extension as a way to reduce traffic jams near their city's mile-square Media District, a commercial and office zone near several movie studios.

Glendale officials at Friday's meeting said they see the need for such a rail line to Burbank and the Valley. They said they are concerned about worsening traffic problems if Glendale continues to develop as a commercial center.

"My gut feeling is there's a great need to connect the Valley with our cities," said Councilman John F. Day, who attended the meeting along with Councilman Larry Zarian and Morford. "It is thought that a lot of people employed in Glendale and Burbank come from the Valley, and they need transportation."

Day, who is also an RTD director, said he will urge the City Council to commit funds for a feasibility study of a Glendale-to-North Hollywood line. Another meeting between city and transit officials is expected in January, Day said. The cost of the study should be known by then, he said.

Limited Funding

Zarian, however, is less willing to spend city funds on a study that, he said, is really not necessary. Zarian said the RTD has figures showing Glendale to be a heavily traveled public transportation route. That, along with Glendale's strategic location near the Golden State, Ventura and Foothill freeways, should be enough to persuade transit officials to designate Glendale as a primary location for a light-rail system, he said.

Glendale does not receive enough Proposition A funds to build a light-rail system, Zarian said. "I don't see a light rail here anytime soon," he said, "unless they change their mind and see Glendale as a main artery."

The first light-rail route to be built is a 21-mile link between downtown Los Angeles and Long Beach. Ground-breaking ceremonies were held Oct. 31 for that $685-million project, which is to be completed about 1990.

A light-rail line from North Hollywood west to Chatsworth is one of three other routes in the county under consideration to get Proposition A funds. The Transportation Commission, which will decide which lines to build, is also studying light-rail service for the South Bay and East Los Angeles.

Meanwhile, supporters of Metro Rail are fighting in Congress for a federal financing guarantee for the 18.6-mile subway. Supporters of the project say a multiyear agreement is needed to begin Metro Rail construction early next year.

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