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Glendale Awaits OK on Funds for Rail Study

March 10, 1988|MARTHA L. WILLMAN | Times Staff Writer

Glendale officials were waiting late Wednesday for the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission to decide whether to allocate $100,000 to study the possibility of a light-rail network linking Glendale with downtown Los Angeles, even though construction funds probably will not be available for at least 15 years.

The city is requesting a share of funds not used in the San Fernando Valley, where vocal opponents of light rail persuaded the commission in November to halt a $1.6-million study there. The Transportation Commission's Finance Committee recommended last week that Glendale's request be granted.

The Glendale City Council last month voted to pay half of the expected $200,000 cost of the study, which could take a year to complete.

Four years ago, the commission ranked Glendale as a low priority for rail construction funds.

City officials said they were told that no money will be available until after the year 2000. However, the officials said planning the project now may help speed construction later.

"If we start the process now, we will have an advantage when the funding does come our way," said Kerry Morford, executive assistant to the director of public works.

'A Good Chance'

Glendale Mayor Ginger Bremberg said the city has long sought to start studies but that county funds had been allocated for high-priority projects such as the Valley. When the Valley study was dropped, she said, "We figured we had a good chance to jump in and get some planning funds."

Morford said the study "will show what rail alignments are practical through Glendale." He said routes could include the center medians of freeways and existing railroad rights of way. The study will help officials plan transportation improvements, Morford said.

However, he said, completion of the study "will not move us up on the priority list" for construction funds.

A 1987 study by the Southern California Assn. of Governments forecast the work force in Glendale will grow to 98,418 by 2010, a 32% increase over the 1984 employee population of 74,603.

The same study predicted an 18% increase in Pasadena's work force during the same period and a 45% increase in Burbank's.

Pasadena Rated High

Despite the projections, the Glendale-Burbank area was given a low priority by the commission, whereas the Pasadena area is rated among the five transit corridors most in need of light-rail transportation. Commission officials said the ratings were based on statistics gathered shortly after the Proposition A transit tax was approved by the voters in 1980.

Glendale officials said they have been surprised all along that the city's transit needs are rated so low, but have been unable to persuade the Transportation Commission to change its priorities. "We are continuing our talks with them," Morford said.

Unlike many vocal residents in the Valley who opposed light-rail, Glendale residents support the city's efforts to speed development of a transit line, Bremberg said. "An awful lot of people in Glendale remember the red cars and how efficient they were," Bremberg said. "They are acquainted with light rail and think it is a good idea."

Bremberg said she does not understand the opposition in the Valley. "The people in the Valley are so funny," she said. "They don't want an airport, but they all fly. They don't want a landfill, but they all contribute trash. They want to resolve the traffic congestion but not in their back yard.

"Our people already have accepted the responsibility of a landfill," Bremberg added. "They are totally supportive of the airport and are ready for a light rail."

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