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Bullet train officials urged to weigh 2 options at Union Station

The L.A. City Council says the alternatives are crucial to protecting East Los Angeles residents as planners determine the downtown stop on the planned 800-mile route.

December 03, 2009|By Maeve Reston

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday unanimously urged the California High Speed Rail Authority to consider two proposed alternatives for the bullet train stop at Union Station downtown.

Councilman Ed Reyes said the alternatives were crucial to protecting residents in East L.A. as planners determine the route for the 800-mile bullet train between Northern California and San Diego. Proponents say the train would carry passengers from L.A. to San Francisco in about 2 1/2 hours.

The two alternatives are an aerial stop at Union Station where the bullet train would be stacked above Metrolink tracks, or a stop on the east side of Patsaouras Transit Plaza, along Vignes Street.

A city planner said the second option could minimize intrusions into communities north and south.

California voters approved a $10-billion bond measure for the bullet train in 2008, and the state is seeking additional federal money in the hope of beginning construction on a first phase between Anaheim and Los Angeles as early as 2011.

Reyes said he is concerned that the likely route north from Union Station along the L.A. River would destroy the city's plans to rehabilitate the river as well as disrupt the lives of residents in communities including Lincoln Heights, Cypress Park and Elysian Valley.

He cited Chicago's Millennium Park, which was built above railroad tracks and parking, as an example of the opportunities that lie ahead for Los Angeles as the project advances.

"We should be opening our eyes to what could be," Reyes said. " . . . In your hands lies a unique opportunity to create a facility that should last the next 100 years. But let's do it with the understanding that we can create relief and improvements."

Reyes demanded a public commitment that rail authority officials would consider both options, which he said could determine the path of the train as it heads north from Union Station.

Valerie Martinez, Southern California communications director for the High Speed Rail Authority, assured Reyes that the draft environmental impact report would include a second alternative.

"There will be two options that your community will be able to look at and determine how each of those impacts the communities," she said.

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