Portantino Helps Obtain $5.5 Million to Build Freeway Sound Walls

State Sen. Anthony Portantino, a former La Cañada Flintridge city councilman, recently helped LCF obtain $5.5 million for the construction of sound walls along the 210 Freeway.
Portantino, the Senate Appropriations Committee chair, said he submitted a “member’s request” for capital projects amid the budget process, and the California Department of Finance saw the merit behind his petition.
“I was very pleased this long-standing public works project on the 210 will get another shot in the arm,” Portantino said in a recent phone interview. “Last year, we were able to get $12 million.”
Portantino was able to obtain that infusion after negotiating with the state Transportation Commission and also working with Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s office. A combination of Senate Bill 1 transportation funds and county Metropolitan Transportation Authority money resulted from the effort.
The $5.5 million is tucked inside the approximately $213 billion state budget for 2019-20, and once Gov. Gavin Newsom signs the budget the funds will become available, said Portantino spokeswoman Yvonne Vasquez.
Portantino said the effort to obtain sound wall money goes back to the time when he was LCF’s mayor.
“I had asked the city when I was mayor to prepare our environmental documents,” he said. “And the theory I had back then was … we do our environmental documentation and self-fund those, and show the state and the county we have skin in the game and we’re ready to move forward. As the money becomes available, we’ll be able to capitalize on that. That’s what happened for SB 1. It’s called NBSSR, the Noise Barrier Scope Summary Reports that I initiated when I was mayor. Being familiar with the local needs and now being in position … I thought it was important to do so.”
Portantino said he wants to leverage the $5.5 million to create an “even bigger pot” of money in the future.
“I’m excited being in a position to implement policies that are priorities in my district,” he said.
City Manager Mark Alexander said on Tuesday at a City Council meeting that the local government is very thankful for Portantino’s efforts.
“Potentially, that could go up to $10 million if things happen the way we hope,” Alexander said.
Because the information was so new, Alexander said the money was not reported on the 2019-20 budget that was also discussed on Tuesday.
Some of the $12 million is set to go toward designing and building three segments along the 210, city Public Works Director Pat DeChellis said in an email. They include two along the Hampton Road overpass and one from Alta Canyada Drive to La Cañada Boulevard, he said.
Design for the sound walls is scheduled to start in summer. After the three segments are completed, the city will have 16 remaining at a total cost (including preliminary assessment, environmental determination and construction) of more than $30 million, DeChellis said.
LCF Division Manager Ann Wilson said in an email there are not many details on the new funding, and city staff members were not involved with the effort.
“It was really only Sen. Portantino’s effort to gain funding for the project that is important to the community and its residents,” Wilson said. “A few weeks ago, we had been involved in providing Sen. Portantino (at his request) with information regarding the remaining sound walls and the associated funding needs. To the best of our knowledge, there is no match requirement for these funds.”
Mayor Leonard Pieroni said the news of the sound walls was a “nice surprise,” but Portantino had told him he was working to get additional funding.
“We definitely need it,” Pieroni said.

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