San Fernando mayor happier about latest bullet train alternatives, not so conservationists

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The High Speed Rail Authority's latest options unveiled this week for the Burbank to Palmdale segment of the bullet train tracks drew a more positive reaction from the San Fernando mayor than it has previously.

Conservationists, however, remain opposed to two of the latest route choices because they would still travel through the Angeles National Forest.

Last summer, the proposed routes drew about 300 people to a meeting where they protested the suggested alignments, including one that would have cut through communities like San Fernando.

The redrawn options leave out an above-ground tracks through densely populated areas and modify two alternative routes through the forest.

"This new alignment is a tremendous improvement," said San Fernando Mayor Joel Fajardo, who had been one of the plan’s most vocal opponents.

Not all critics have been quieted. One is Dave DePinto, who leads the Save Angeles Forest for Everyone coalition, which advocates for communities in the north San Fernando Valley and the forest.

"The work's not done," he said. "There is still a major route that has these above-ground elements. That is untenable to residents in the area and it's untenable to people who appreciate the open space."

DePinto wants to see a route that will avoid the Big Tujunga wash in Angeles National Forest. Last year, his group commissioned a study examining possible effects that tunneling could have on groundwater in the area, which DePinto says the authority has not fully considered.

The authority will weigh the latest route proposals in April, then public comment will be gathered through the summer.

A map shows the updated proposed routes for the Burbank to Palmdale section of the California bullet train.
A map shows the updated proposed routes for the Burbank to Palmdale section of the California bullet train. California High Speed Rail Authority

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