Give Your Input at Upcoming CA High Speed Rail Scoping Meetings

The audience at yesterday's High Speed Rail scoping meeting in Burbank. Meetings continue this week though August 19. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.
Yesterday’s High Speed Rail scoping meeting in Burbank. Meetings continue this week, and though August 19. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The California High Speed Rail Authority (CAHSRA) is hosting a series of meetings to solicit input on two Los Angeles County sections of the statewide project.

CAHSRA is gaining momentum after securing state cap-and-trade funding, and prevailing over a lawsuit that restricted the agency’s financing abilities. With construction already underway in the Central Valley, Southern California lawmakers are pressing for the agency to move forward hereBurbank to Palmdale looks to be the first in line for Los Angeles County. Though that segment is on a relatively fast track, it will still take through the end of 2015 to complete and approve the environmental studies.  

Last night, the agency held a scoping meeting in Burbank. There were roughly 90-100 attendees from the public, and more than 25 people employed by the agency, presumably consultants. The format of the meeting was mostly open house, with CAHSRA representatives responding to the largely white, elderly audience both individually and in small groups.

At about 6 p.m., there was a 40-minute presentation by CAHSRA Southern California Regional Director Michelle Boehm. Boehm touted her agency’s involvement in numerous L.A. County activities that are laying the groundwork for HSR’s arrival. CAHSRA has a role in: the Regional Connector, Metrolink capital, positive train control, double-tracking, grade separation and run-through tracks planned for Los Angeles Union Station.

CAHSRA is currently scoping their environmental studies for two discrete, but ultimately conjoined, sections:

  1. Burbank to Palmdale: HSR is planned to run non-stop between Burbank Airport and the Palmdale Transportation Center. There are two routes currently under consideration. The first is on the surface, along existing rail tracks that more-or-less parallel the 5 Freeway and the 14 Freeway. The second would be a tunnel under the San Gabriel Mountains. Boehm expressed some enthusiasm for the latter, as it would shorter and faster, though it is likely to be more expensive.
  2. Burbank to Los Angeles: HSR is planned to run non-stop between the Burbank Airport and L.A. Union Station. Though most of this segment would run alongside existing railroad tracks that parallel the 5 Freeway, there are a number of alignments under consideration for the approach to Union Station. Boehm stressed that this segment is being designed in close coordination with three other planning processes underway: Los Angeles River revitalization, Union Station Master Plan, and Union Station Run-Through Tracks.

Earlier HSR planning had combined these two sections into just L.A. to Palmdale, but CAHSRA determined that the Burbank to Palmdale stretch will have “independent utility” and appears to be able to proceed sooner, while complexities are worked out on the Union Station end. 

August 31st is the deadline to submit scoping input for the EIR/EIS (Environmental Impact Report and Environmental Impact Study). This fall, the agency will present its scoping report to its board, then, through 2015, the agency will prepare its draft EIR/EIS, then prepare and certify final ones.

How should California's high speed rail interface with Los Angeles County? Give your input at an upcoming meeting or via email. Image via CAHSRA
How should California’s high speed rail interface with Los Angeles County? Give your input at an upcoming meeting or via email. Image via CAHSRA

Streetsblog Los Angeles readers are encouraged to attend and give input on these projects. The agency is interested in numerous aspects of alignment and also station access issues, including walking, bicycling, and transit-oriented development. What would “location-sensitive parking” look like at Union Station? CAHSRA needs to hear from you.

There are plenty more meetings: tonight in Palmdale, and upcoming at Union Station, and in Lake View Terrace, Sylmar, and Acton.

All of the meetings will be held from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

  • Thursday, August 7, Palmdale: Chimbole Cultural Center, 38350 Sierra Highway.
  • Monday, August 11, Acton: Acton-Agua Dulce Library, 33792 Crown Valley Road.
  • Tuesday, August 12, Sylmar: Sylmar Public Library, 14561 Polk St.
  • Thursday, August 14, Lake View Terrace: Lake View Terrace Recreation Center, 11075 Foothill Blvd.
  • Tuesday, August 19, Los Angeles: Union Station, Fred Harvey Room, 800 N. Alameda St.

Public comments will be accepted until August 31. If you can’t attend a meeting, you can send submit via email (with “Palmdale to Burbank” or “Burbank to Los Angeles” in subject line) to:

  • Palmdale to Burbank:
  • Burbank to Los Angeles:
  • davistrain

    There’s one faction in the High Speed Rail discussion that considers the idea of going by way of Palmdale to be a bad idea, adding too much travel time while attracting too few additional passengers. Their point of view is that with modern construction methods, a railway could follow I-5 over Tejon Pass, making it more competitive with air travel.

  • DrunkEngineer

    But then developers wouldn’t be able to turn Palmdale into automobile sprawl hell — the real purpose of the HSR project.

  • Matt

    Isn’t that what Palmdale is now without HSR?

  • Fakey McFakename

    At least Palmdale’s SFRs are denser than their equivalents in, say, Georgia or Texas. And the area near the proposed HSR station does have a plan authorizing more multifamily construction.

  • rdm24

    I can’t believe anyone supports blasting tunnels through wilderness areas. I prefer to keep the forest rail-free, thank you.

  • Phantom Commuter

    And we also believe that the L.A.-Bakersfield segment via I-5/Tejon Pass should be built first. It would connect the Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin and Capitol Corridors, greatly improving the existing trip times, while a bypass is built along the I-5 corridor between Bakersfield and the Bay Area via Altamont Pass. After completion, express trains would bypass Central Valley stops, while locals would veer off the HSR line at Bakersfield and Tracy to serve Central valley stops.

  • Nathanael

    If the tunnels are strictly UNDER the wilderness, it’s not going to bother the wildlife. (Unless we’re talking Carlsbad Caverns, which we aren’t.) What you want to avoid is rail on the *surface*.

  • wqjackson

    As long as it under where the wildlife lives I have no problem with it. Coexisting is what life is about.

  • rdm24

    I’ll believe you after I see the geotechnical studies.

  • HSR Info

    The Palmdale vs. Tejon question was discussed to death. Tejon is shorter, but, despite modern construction technology, it still represents bigger engineering challenges, which is why the existing tracks don’t do Tejon. The final nail in the coffin for Tejon is Xpresswest–a project to link the whole CaHSR system to Vegas as well. This requires the Palmdale route so CaHSR can connect with the High Desert Corridor project, which will eventually allow Xpress West to connect LA and Vegas. Once you know this, I don’t see how anyone can still argue for Tejon.

  • Annoyed Acton Resident

    I personally work in Burbank and live in Acton – the train would NOT benefit me – why should I drive 20+ miles to the train station in Palmdale, which is the opposite direction, to go to Burbank. You can only get on in Palmdale and off by Burbank airport. I am sooo against this HSR for many reasons, additional costs to us the taxpayers, how they will ruin my town and go right by my property possibly harm my well, the list goes on and on. We choose to live rural and deal with wells, septic tanks, propane tanks on our land – and the majority of you that are for this train going through/under our town have no idea the lifestyle we live and have to do for the property we own, we are not suburbia and live so close to each other that you can hear your neighbor cough at night in bed. How many people will the train take from Palmdale to Burbank when we have the Metrolink that makes stops in Acton, Santa Clarita and so on – the HSR doesn’t. The sad thing is that no matter how hard we fight this the bottom line is that the HSR Board that makes the final decision is not a voted in board, but these people were appointed to the board by the Governor and they have the final decision. The meetings are a joke and most of the questions we asked in the July 30th meeting were answered in circles – so we never got a straight answer. I just hope that with all the hard work that Ms. Ayers and the rest of the group from Acton has put in will work – I tried to go to the meeting last night but it was over crowded. We warned them on July 30th that the Library was too small and they needed to find a bigger venue but as usual they didn’t listen. Let’s keep fighting! NO TO HSR THROUGH ACTON!

  • nomascerveza

    You can still drive everyday to Burbank that won’t change. Is the route going thru your property? How will it affect your well? What has the CAHSRA told you? How is the train going to ruin Acton?

  • Claude

    If we’re already building a new rail line along the SR99 is there any actual advantage to building a second very expensive line along the I-5?
    One disadvantage, beyond cost, is that even an express should stop at Bakersfield and Fresno , which are very large markets.

    The fastest service on the line from Tokyo to Osaka has 4 intermediate stops to serve large markets. The extra time is minimal and the lost revenue from not stopping would be significant.