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"Long Tunnel" Option, Anyone? Latest on High-Speed Rail and Downtown

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Three proposed routes leaving Union Station (which is off the map, to the left) and heading north
DOWNTOWN: At today's High-Speed Rail Authority Board meeting, held at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's headquarters in downtown, the board approved recommendations for three routes leaving Union Station, pathways that will be studied in the draft environmental impact report for the Palmdale to Los Angeles line.

Two of the proposed routes go completely under the Los Angeles State Historic Park in a so-called "long tunnel" option, news that will likely please environmental groups like Natural Resources Defense Council, which had pushed to protect the park from trenching (or cut and cover options). A third route sees the train travel at an at-grade/aerial combination through the Rio de Los Angeles State Park, following the Metrolink alignment towards State Route 2.
These three routes leaving downtown--the only ones to be studied for the draft EIR--are a refinement from numerous other routes at one point being considered around the parks and Dodger Stadium. (And how the train initially leaves Union Station is still being decided, but it will be from either an at-grade or aerial route.)

Meanwhile, a predominately at-grade alignment through the San Fernando Valley is being considered for the Palmdale to Los Angeles line, Dan Tempelis, regional manager for the route, told the board. Additionally, the downtown Burbank stop has been dropped; if there’s a stop, it will be near the airport. And the Pacoima Washington stop has been dropped. Towards the mountains, the route is still being refined, he said.

Not surprisingly, some cities and towns aren't thrilled about the at-grade option. "The rail lines will come at-grade through neighborhoods located in the eastern areas of Santa Clarita," said Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean, speaking before the board, "And our residents are extremely concerned about that."

The Palmdale to Los Angeles line is just one of many segments of California's high-speed rail line. The draft EIR for this line is expected to be out by the end of the year and the final EIR is expected in 2012. [Curbed Staff]