Transportation Plans Around, Through Glendale…

LARiverCities

LARiverCities
The upcoming Glendale Mayor’s Ride 2014, taking place November 8 and starting at 9:30am, will highlight major transportation projects now being studied or in the works, including the Glendale Narrows Riverwalk.

Major road, rail, and river transformations are planned, and big things are happening now, though it seems as if everything is still on the drawing board. That was the message Carol Armstrong, City of Los Angeles River Project Manager, delivered at an Air Quality Management District presentation last week at Brand Library, attended by Mayor Zareh Sinanyan, Public Works Director Roubik Golanian, other policy makers and transportation professionals. Armstrong’s long list of initiatives underway, and her emphasis on the Glendale Narrows and Doran St. crossing, portend a lot of changes along Glendale’s border near the river.

SB375SlideThe Brand event was organized by Cordoba Corporation, which is working with AQMD to get the word out about air quality issues and regional planning. SCAQMD Health Effects Officer Jean Ospital discussed the latest findings on Near-Roadway Exposures to pollutants and the implications for future land-use. Professor Hilda Blanco, from the USC Price School of Public Policy and Center for Sustainable Cities, spoke about strategies to mitigate climate change and to reduce greenhouse gases. Blanco said that California’s SB 375, the Sustainable Communities Strategy, is a rare case of a win-win-win: denser development geared to reducing travel times / greenhouse gases benefits the economy, the environment, and civic life. During the Q&A, Glendale Planning Commissioner Erik Yesayan, who is now running for City Council, engaged the panelists in a discussion of how cities can access funding (federal, state and other) for various active transportation and sustainable development initiatives.

The following Tuesday, November 4, the transportation management organizations of Glendale and Burbank hosted an update on California High Speed Rail, held at Disney’s Burbank campus. Michelle Boehm, Southern California Regional Director for the California High Speed Rail Authority, noted there that in order to facilitate its planning and construction, the High Speed Rail project is providing partial funding for near-term projects (including the Doran Street grade separation).

That evening, the high profile SR-710 project was on the Glendale City Council agenda. Council member Ara Najarian urged providing increased funding to combat the pro-tunnel advocacy of cities including Alhambra and San Marino, and Laura Friedman voted with him. Mayor Zareh Sinanyan and council members Paula Devine and Dave Weaver cast the three votes against the motion, with both Sinanyan and Devine stating they preferred to wait until the February 2015 EIR was released to review it.

If the retrograde tunnel option ends up as the study’s preferred alternative and that huge construction project goes forward, air quality will decrease along Glendale’s northern and eastern zones, and traffic will increase along the 210 and the 134, results contrary to state transportation and development policy. Gains from a revitalized river and efficient rail / road separations will be cancelled by a huge increase of trucks and traffic through Glendale on two freeways.