First published in the Nov. 12 print issue of the Burbank Leader.
On Wednesday, Metrolink held a groundbreaking ceremony at the Burbank-Downtown Station to mark the start of the Burbank Junction Speed Improvement Project.
The track infrastructure improvements aim to reduce travel times by allowing for increased speeds and more efficient operations, providing passengers with wait times of no more than 30 minutes.
“Metrolink’s Burbank Junction Speed Improvements Project will be a tremendous benefit to our city,” said Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes at the groundbreaking event. “On behalf of the City Council, I congratulate Metrolink on the groundbreaking of this milestone and look forward to our continued partnership in providing safer operations and increased service speeds for our community.”
Metrolink is Southern California’s regional passenger rail service. It primarily serves as a commuter system. The agency’s 547 miles of track and 67 stations across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino and Ventura counties enable people to connect to jobs that would otherwise be out of reach, Metrolink Public Relations Manager Karen Bakar said in a press statement.
The Burbank Junction Speed Improvement Project, located north of the Burbank-Downtown Station, will realign a portion of existing mainline track, reconfigure and lengthen track, improve and replace approximately one-half mile of existing track and install new right-of-way safety fencing.
“By improving track infrastructure, the Burbank Junction Speed Improvement Project is an important step toward greater regional mobility, while delivering economic growth through new jobs,” Metrolink Board Chair Ara Najarian said.
The project is funded by the California State Transportation Agency through Senate Bill 862. The bill seeks to significantly reduce emissions of greenhouse gases, vehicle miles traveled and congestion by funding capital improvements to California’s intercity, commuter, bus and urban rail systems.
“Transportation touches everything,” said Assemblymember Laura Friedman. She praised the opportunities created by SB 862 in an address at the groundbreaking event, saying they will “advance the effort to create safe, equitable and sustainable transit solutions that positively impact housing issues, access to job opportunities and our health.”
Prior to the pandemic, Metrolink had nearly 12 million annual boardings from people who choose to ride the train to avoid gridlock, removing an estimated 9.3 million vehicles from the roads and reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 130,000 metric tons each year.
“Every day our service takes thousands of vehicles off our highways and local roads. But we have only scratched the surface of what Metrolink can achieve,” said L.A. County Supervisor and Metrolink Board Member Kathryn Barger.
“Our service will play an ever-increasing and important role in people’s ability to move around the region. So, I view this project as a first step in a great leap forward and I am so proud to celebrate it,” she added.
Construction is scheduled to be completed summer 2023.