A proposed light-rail line from Burbank Airport through Glendale to downtown Los Angeles should be a top priority with county transit planners, two regional transportation coalitions say.
The Tri-City Transportation Coalition, representing Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena business and governmental interests, last week approved a resolution supporting the proposed rail line. The newly formed San Gabriel Valley Transportation Coalition, made up of community leaders from 29 cities, included its support in a list of recommendations sent last month to the Los Angeles County Transportation Commission.
The transportation commission is developing a 30-year transit plan and is expected to set priorities in February or March for rail, bus and roadway projects that would cost an estimated minimum of $150 billion.
The current controversy about contracts for a high-tech, driverless rail system for the Norwalk-to-El Segundo Green Line has delayed discussions on the 30-year plan. The Glendale City Council, meanwhile, has joined the chorus against the Green Line. Glendale officials say it could sap revenues for the Burbank-Glendale-Los Angeles line.
In making their recommendations, the coalitions emphasized that they support construction of the Pasadena light-rail line, a Blue Line extension scheduled to be built from downtown's Union Station before the Burbank-Glendale line.
Construction on the Pasadena Blue Line was to have begun this year. But an impasse between the transportation commission and Santa Fe Railroad Co., which owns the rail rights of way proposed for the line, has delayed it. The rail line is planned to follow the Foothill Freeway (210) to eastern Pasadena, possibly around Sierra Madre Boulevard.
As part of the plan being developed by the county, six other "candidate" rail projects could be undertaken. The Tri-City and the San Gabriel Valley transportation groups favor the Burbank-Glendale line and an extension of the Pasadena line along the Foothill Freeway to Azusa as two of the top priorities.
The Tri-City group ranked the Burbank-Glendale line as the first priority and the Azusa extension as the second.
The San Gabriel Valley coalition didn't rank the two, saying only that the lines should be among the top three projects considered.
The San Gabriel group supported as a third priority construction of a light-rail line that would follow the Pomona Freeway (60), starting in the vicinity of East Los Angeles and running to the San Gabriel River Freeway (605).
Three other light-rail projects being considered by the transportation commission are one from downtown Los Angeles to Santa Monica, another that would travel north-south in the South Bay and one that would extend the Green Line through Norwalk and connect to commuter rail trains at the Norwalk Amtrak station.
The common recommendations from the two coalitions, members of both groups said, are an acknowledgment that the two regions share traffic congestion problems and should unite political forces to influence solutions.
"They're supporting us and we're supporting them," said Bradbury Councilwoman Beatrice LaPisto-Kirtley, a steering committee member of the San Gabriel group, which started last fall. Traffic congestion, she said, doesn't stop at city or county lines.
Alhambra City Manager Kevin J. Murphy, another steering committee member, said: "We're not going to be just looking strictly at the San Gabriel Valley. We're going to be looking at a holistic system of transportation."
That includes looking closely at the rail, highway and bus proposals for adjacent areas of the county such as the Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena region, as well as neighboring Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties, he said.
Nat Read, staff consultant to the Tri-City Transportation Coalition, said the coalitions agree on many issues and expect to be working together to help shape policies and planning by the county commission.
The Tri-City coalition started in 1989 and lobbies on behalf of its members' transportation interests.
An extension of the Pasadena Blue Line to Azusa and a light-rail line from downtown Los Angeles to the Burbank Airport are support by the Tri-City and San Gabriel Valley transportation coalitions. The Pasadena Blue Line also is strongly supported.