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Varying Cost Estimates for Rail Line Trouble Officials

October 14, 1994|HENRY CHU | TIMES STAFF WRITER

County transit officials Thursday asked planners to reconcile incompatible cost figures for the east-west San Fernando Valley rail line, saying the matter should be resolved before the Metropolitan Transportation Authority decides between a subway or monorail-type system.

A study released last month found that a subway system paralleling Burbank Boulevard would cost $19 million more than an elevated line straddling the Ventura Freeway, far less than the $400 million previously estimated. Officials who favor an elevated railway dispute the lower amount, saying that differences in pricing resulted in higher estimates for the monorail.

On Thursday, MTA board member Yvonne Brathwaite-Burke asked planners to be prepared to address those disparities when the board meets Oct. 26 to select a route for the rail line.

She and other MTA officials also requested more information about the option of building a ground-level rail line along the Ventura Freeway median that initial projections show could be cheaper than an aerial system. Such an "at-grade" railway would be similar to the Green Line trolley under construction in the center of the Century Freeway.

The possibility of saving as much as $550 million, according to preliminary projections, "would be a big added bonus," board member Raul Perez said.

MTA chief Franklin E. White said his staff would further analyze the merits of an at-grade system. But he stressed that the MTA board should decide on a route this month so that the agency can begin work on environmental studies that must be completed if the MTA hopes to win federal funding for the project.

Several Valley residents also urged the MTA to settle the matter.

"The Valley should not be held hostage any longer," said Polly Ward, who lives in Studio City.

A decision at the MTA meeting later this month would cap years of bickering over a Valley rail line. Supporters of a monorail say such a system would be a more cost-effective option for the cash-strapped transit agency, while opponents contend that an underground railway would provide a better connection to the Metro Rail Red Line subway through Downtown Los Angeles and Hollywood.

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