Where was our City Councilman Felipe Fuentes to speak on our behalf?
Fuentes was not at the Commission meeting and it is not clear if he had sent any members of staff. Many locals have inquired where does their Councilman stand on the matter of routing the train - as it makes it trek from Palmdale to Burbank - under the Angeles National Forest and through the communities of Sunland-Tujunga, Shadow Hills and La Tuna Canyon - an alternative suggested by County Supervisor Mike Antonovich after residents from the Santa Clarita Valley voice opposition to the original planned alignment along existing rail corridors that follow State Route 14 and Interstate 5.
But what is becoming clearer with the release of a letter from Fuentes to the Commission is that the Councilman is supporting an alignment that steers the train route away from other communities in his District. Without so much giving details, Fuentes told the commission that his preferred route would:
by Wally Wharton
"Maximize underground and tunnel options,"
"Minimize impact on residential areas..."
"Minimize impact on recently constructed infrastructure projects,"
Fuentes further went on to state "...it is critical that the Authority consider other alternatives beyond those presently proposed. As it stands, the at-grade alternative through the San Fernando Valley, running along the San Fernando corridor, is problematic given the number and proximity of single family homes and job-generating uses that will be impacted." Echoing a concern from residents of San Fernando, Sylmar and Pacoima, the Councilman continued "This proposed alignment will visually and physically bifurcate the community further limiting it's economic potential."
In a single sentence, Fuentes states that a tunnel through the Angeles National Forest would also be similarly problematic, but only to the extent as to where the train exits the tunnel. (Remember, it has to get to San Fernando Road at some point to connect to Burbank Airport. If you look at a map, you start to get ideas how they would want to do this.)
So while Fuentes has given some recognition to opposition to the ANF alignment, clearly the primary effort is to keep the train off the San Fernando Road right away. at least until you get to Sun Valley.