I suspect one of the most interesting discussions at Thursday’s meeting of the Metro Board of Directors will involve a non-Metro project: the California high-speed rail project between Anaheim and San Francisco.
County Mayor/Supervisor and Metro Board Vice Chairman Mike Antonovich has authored a motion asking the Board to support a high-speed rail route that travels through the Antelope Valley between L.A. and Bakersfield — with a station in Palmdale. That was, in fact, the plan for the state agency building the line. But earlier this year the agency — beset with funding woes — decided to reopen studies of an alternate route along the 5 freeway that would be shorter and cheaper to build.
It will be intriguing to see if the Metro Board at this stage wants to throw its weight behind a particular route, given that the entire high-speed rail project is in such a tenuous state. The 5 freeway corridor between Bakersfield and Santa Clarita has relatively few people living near it, whereas Lancaster and Palmdale have a combined population of about 300,000. The Antelope Valley also lacks Amtrak rail service and is presently a two-hour journey to L.A. Union Station via Metrolink.
Earlier this year, Antonovich and Board Member Ara Najarian authored a motion — approved by the Metro Board — asking Metro to work with Metrolink to develop a master plan to greatly speed up train trips to the Antelope Valley. It’s clear that Antonovich has concerns about keeping the northern part of his district connected to the rest of the state and metropolitan area. The motion – which also seeks to have a So Cal representative on the high-speed rail board — is below.