An entrance to Angeles National Forest. Photo via Wikimedia Commons
An entrance to Angeles National Forest. Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously Tuesday to oppose a version of the Palmdale-to-Burbank high-speed rail segment proposed to run through the Big Tujunga Wash in the Angeles National Forest.

Supervisor Michael Antonovich recommended that the board send a letter opposing the plan — one of three alternatives set for environmental review — to county lobbyists and the California High-Speed Rail Authority Board.

The letter will also state that the board opposes any segment that would cross the Big Tujunga Wash at or above grade, and that the remaining two alternatives also pose threats to homes and wildlife areas, and press for an update on long-awaited hydrological and technical studies.

In 2013, Antonovich asked the authority to underground most of the Palmdale-to-Burbank segment of the state’s bullet train route, which is about 35-45 miles long and runs through rural, urban and densely populated communities, as well as portions of the Angeles National Forest.

The agency agreed to tunnel through the San Gabriel Mountains, but the new plans have created other problems, Antonovich said.

Antelope Valley residents told the board the high-speed rail line would divide the community of Lake View Terrace, threaten wildlife and hurt property values.

The train — projected to run from San Francisco to Los Angeles in less than three hours by 2029 — is designed to travel at speeds up to 200 miles per hour. Proponents have stressed safety measures and lower failsafe speed restrictions along stretches of the track.

The HSR project — approved by voters in 2008 and last estimated to cost $64 billion — has been plagued by delays and opposition at almost every turn. But proponents say it is less than half the cost of infrastructure improvements to highways and airports that would be necessary without the train. The train also has the advantage of paying customers to fund operating and maintenance costs, unlike most highway projects.

— City News Service

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