The California High-Speed Rail Authority held various outreach events last week throughout the northeast San Fernando Valley to present their proposed routes of the country’s first high speed train, which will possibly pass right through Pacoima. About 75 people showed up to the each meeting in Sun Valley, Burbank, San Fernando, and Sylmar to learn more about the project and had a chance to speak to engineers and representatives from the rail authority.
After learning more about the project, many of the community members in attendance showed concern about the impact the train will have in their neighborhoods. Most people from Pacoima and San Fernando who attended the meetings are worried the proposed route is going to literally split and divide the community.
“Nos van a fregar,” said Reyna Salas, a Pacoima resident for 50 years who lives near the proposed route. Aside from the loss of businesses and homes for the construction of the project, she said she is concerned about the noise and health effects from the train.
“It’s a nice idea from San francisco to San Diego, but don’t destroy our
communities,” said Jorge Poche, a teacher at Arleta High School who was born and raised in Pacoima and now lives in Sylmar. “Don’t put these barriers, walls there are going to be almost like we are going to be in the 1960’s with the Berlin wall.”
The route that may pass through Pacoima, known as SR 14 Corridor, will run alongside the current tracks on San Fernando Road from Burbank to Palmdale. If this route is chosen, the tracks will be closed off with high sound walls, and all intersections along the rail line will be affected. Small streets that currently cross the tracks, like Pierce Street will be closed off. Traffic will only be able to pass at main intersections. These main intersections like Van Nuys Boulevard and Osborne Street will will no longer be able to cross over the tracks; all traffic will have to pass either under above the train’s tracks.
In order for that development to take place, some properties and businesses at those intersections will have to be removed to allow for the development of the overpass or underpass.
The city of San Fernando has already taken a stance to protest the SR 14 Corridor saying the train will destroy the communities of Sylmar, San Fernando, and Pacoima. In a video posted on Youtube, Mayor Pro Tem Robert Gonzales talks about the negative impacts the train will have on the city, and calls community members to protest the train.
The train is planned to travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in under three hours traveling over 200 miles per hour. The system will eventually extend to Sacramento and San Diego and will have 24 stations.
Representatives from the CaHSRA were adamant to say the project is only still in its planning phase, and the route passing through Pacoima, San Fernando, and Sylmar has not been officially decided. In fact, another route, the East Coridor, is proposed, which may go through Shadow Hills and under the San Gabriel Mountains via tunnels. But likewise, members from that ranch and equestrian community have expressed concern of the impacts it will have on their neighborhood and animals.
“We are in the planning phase, so we are looking at the greater picture which is from Palmdale to Union Station. So part of the planning process is to look at alternatives and what are the options people need to think about in terms of is this the best corridor,” said Katherine Perez Estolano, the CaHSRA board member that represents Los Angeles.
“So we are looking, we’re tweaking the corridors, we’re identifying, and we’re studying those that make the most sense, whether it’s environmentally, or in terms of community impacts,” she said.
People who attended the open-house-like community outreach events were able to speak directly to engineer and fill out comment cards, which the said they take in consideration in determining community impact. The final decision on which route will be chosen will be done after the Environmental Impact Report is concluded. Comments can still be made by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. More information about the high speed rail project from Palmdale to Burbank can be found online here, including information about the authority’s permit to enter private property.