Opposition to San Gabriels Tunnel Stiffens
It’s the same old story: anytime high speed rail is proposed in a particular location, residents freak out and assume that the California High Speed Rail Authority is plotting their doom. The latest example comes from Southern California, where residents of the Lakeview Terrace area, along the Tujunga Wash, are up in arms about the Authority’s study of a tunnel under the San Gabriel Mountains.
The study was pushed onto the Authority, which was happy with their Highway 14 routing, by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich. Antonovich’s district includes the northern half of Los Angeles County, including Santa Clarita, Palmdale, Burbank, Sunland, and Tujunga – but not Lake View Terrace.
The Antonovich tunnel has generated a lot of angst in these communities just south of the mountains. Now the LA Daily News, which has vehemently opposed HSR, is joining their fight:
As Staff Writer Dana Bartholomew quoted one of the opponents in a story last week: “These new alternatives, from the yellow banana to the East Corridor, we got blindsided by them,” said David DePinto, a board member of the Shadow Hills Property Owners Association who helped form a group called SAFE, or Save Angeles Forest for Everyone, to battle a bullet train around or beneath Valley equestrian neighborhoods. “We feel like we were attacked. This came out of nowhere.
“This area has earned a reputation as the last intact equestrian community in the city of Los Angeles. It is now under threat.”
It’s amazing that a megalopolis such as Los Angeles still does have a middle-class neighborhood with horse country and semi-rural delights. Our Angeles National Forest is an extraordinary recreational resource that simply doesn’t need another intrusion of big infrastructure. Don’t build this bullet train — but if you do, stick to the route along Highway 14.
It’s hard to be sympathetic about concerns regarding a tunnel being bored underneath you – most residents won’t notice a thing. An at-grade or elevated track would certainly have more of an impact. But would the impact be so different from the construction 40 years ago of Interstate 210, which bisects the communities of Lake View Terrace, Sunland, Tujunga, and many others?
Of course, this tunnel proposal could just be a move by Antonovich to relieve his constituents in Santa Clarita at the expense of constituents who live in Sheila Kuehl’s supervisorial district. Then again, there are people living in Sunland and Tujunga – in Antonovich’s district – who aren’t happy about this plan either.
The thing everyone needs to keep in mind is that the tunnel is a concept at best. It’s something the Authority has agreed to consider, because that’s what they do – they look at various alternatives. The folks living in the Lake View Terrace area are up arms about it – but residents in the Santa Clarita area have been raising the same concerns for years.
Ultimately, the HSR tracks are going to be built, and they’ve got to go somewhere. That means some NIMBY, somewhere in Los Angeles County, is going to be unhappy at the final result. The Authority is going to do more than they need to in order to address the mitigation needs that come from construction. But their decision on this tunnel ought to be made on the basis of what it means for the project’s overall ability to be funded, built, and provide the people of California with a bullet train.