Will California HSR Tunnel Under the San Gabriels?
The Pasadena Star-News reports that the California High Speed Rail Authority will hear a proposal to build a tunnel under the San Gabriel Mountains in order to connect Palmdale to Burbank and Los Angeles, rather than follow Highway 14 between those destinations:
A tunneling option that runs in a straight line from the Palmdale Transportation Center directly to a station at the Burbank airport is being considered by the CHSRA for the first time as part of its environmental review, said Michele Boehm, CHSRA Southern California Regional Director.
“Yes, we have included it as a corridor to look at in the next phase of the analysis,” Boehm said on Monday.
The tunnel route will be shorter than the 60-mile-segment route released in 2007, she said, although she did not know exactly how much shorter. Boehm said the alternative would shave time off the trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The CHSRA is also studying the route for a second and final Southern California segment from Burbank to Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.
This is being driven by LA County Supervisor Mike Antonovich and the City of Santa Clarita, who both would like to avoid some of the impacts that the Highway 14 route would cause on the surface.
The Authority will study the concept, looking both at feasibility and cost. And who knows what the best answer is. A tunnel is not going to be cheap. But it’s possible that driving a tunnel boring machine under the San Gabriels (and the Verdugo Hills) might be cheaper than the cost of multiple grade separations, excavations, retention walls, and other requirements to go through a hilly and curvy route. And there would be a significant time savings as well.
I’m agnostic but curious to see what the study produces.