Transit line not flying for La Palma
La Palma officials say a proposed system that would get passengers from O.C. to the Antelope Valley in an hour will produce excessive noise in residential areas.
By SERENA MARIA DANIELS
The Orange County Register
LA PALMA – Imagine commuting from Irvine to the Antelope Valley in an hour.
The ride would be as smooth and quiet as an airliner and hover inches above a magnetic track at 90 mph, sailing along on tracks that go over freeways.
The magnetic-levitation train, or maglev, is in use in Shanghai, China, and deploys vehicles resembling traditional train cars.
The maglev concept has caught the interest of several Los Angeles County cities and one Orange County city. The municipalities' leaders have formed a group in hopes of creating a 108-mile route.
"Transportation is a growing problem in the region," said Albert Perdon, executive director of the Orangeline Development Authority, the organization pushing to build stations for the line as early as 2013.
But La Palma is on the other side.
Here, City Council members have resolved to vote against mass transit proposals along the now-dormant Pacific Electric rail line that runs just inside the city's borders. They fear such development would produce excessive noise in residential neighborhoods.
Last week, the council unanimously adopted a resolution against the proposal. But members Christine Barnes and Henry Charoen pointed out that increased transportation needs should be taken into consideration.
"People think their town is a little island, but we all need to be connected and find solutions," said Barnes, who serves on the Southern California Association of Governments board that oversees regional transportation issues in six Southern California counties.
Mayor Mark Waldman and Councilman Ralph Rodriguez live near the proposed route; the old railroad tracks have been pulled out in at least some spots.
Both agreed that the negative consequences – increased noise and the construction of an intrusive rail line through residential neighborhoods – outweigh having a regional maglev line run through La Palma.
"I do not believe it will benefit the city," Waldman said.
The Orange County Transportation Authority owns the old Pacific Electric route inside the county but so far has no active plans for the property.
Other county cities have taken interest in maglev lines.
Two years ago, Anaheim officials secured some federal funding to someday build a different maglev line running to Las Vegas, with a stop at the Ontario International Airport.
Another proposed maglev line would connect Ontario to Los Angeles.
So far, Los Alamitos is the lone Orange County city that is a member of the group promoting the Irvine-to-Palmdale line that would go through La Palma.
Los Alamitos Councilman Troy Edgar serves as the authority's vice chairman. He will talk later this month to potential investors in New York. He is hoping for more cities to embrace the project.
"Our biggest reason for being a part of this is … to provide leadership, to be part of the solution," Edgar said.
Maglev's biggest foe so far isn't La Palma— it is a relatively empty wallet.
The authority has raised $1.5 million of the projected $19 billion needed. Its leadership intends to get mostly private and some public funding.
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