Sound Wall Project Clinches Crucial Funding Approval

Some La Cañada Flintridge residents’ prospects for getting a bit of solace from the roaring freeway noise appeared greatly improved after funding for four additional sound walls was approved last week at a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board of Directors meeting.
The board on Thursday approved the advance of $3.712 million in Measure M funds — derived from a half-cent sales tax — and an additional $3.288 million from the Call for Projects reserve fund for construction of 210 Freeway sound walls. Metro allocates discretionary federal, state and local funds through the Call for Projects program.
“This is huge for the city of La Cañada,” said Mayor Terry Walker, who attended the meeting in Los Angeles with Councilman Gregory Brown and Division Manager Ann Wilson.
With $7 million approved by Metro, the project qualifies for a $5 million grant through California Senate Bill 1, which funds transportation projects. A total of $12 million would thus be available for sound walls, and city leaders have said that is the amount needed to pay for four additional barriers. Officials are proceeding with the hope that SB 1 funds will be available, even though that money could be at risk if the gas tax is repealed by Proposition 6, which is on the general election ballot. It is unclear what effect, if any, passage of Prop. 6 would have on the sound walls, officials said.
Walker said the total sum amounts to by far the largest combination grant for a single project in the city. “Our annual budget is about $13 to $14 million,” she said. “It’s almost the amount of our annual budget. It’s very impactful.”
Wilson said LCF’s second-largest grant also was for sound walls and fell under Measure R transportation funds. That grant was for $3.588 million.
The design for the sound wall project will start “very soon,” Wilson said, and city officials will touch base with Metro representatives for help with the SB 1 funds.
“We do not have an exact time frame,” Wilson said of the project. Nearly all transportation funds are on a reimbursement basis, so the city will start work, get billed by the contractor, submit an invoice and get reimbursed, she noted.
Walker thanked state Sen. Anthony Portantino and L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger for leading the effort to secure funds. Portantino made “very creative” amendments to SB 1 legislation so LCF would be eligible for the funding, Walker said. He also “negotiated with LCF, Metro and Barger to secure the $7 million needed to complete this $12 million phase of sound walls,” Walker said in a statement.
Barger made the motion (co-authored by Glendale City Councilman and Metro board member Ara Najarian) on Thursday to allocate the $3.288 million for the sound walls and has worked closely with Portantino to see the measure through.
“This is an excellent example of what can be accomplished when local, county and state officials work collaboratively to get needed infrastructure projects completed,” Portantino said in a statement. “I’m proud to represent our community and very grateful to Supervisor Barger, Metro and city staff for responding to this unique matching opportunity that was presented in the SB 1 negotiations.”
Barger also was pleased with Metro’s decision.
“These sound walls have long been a priority for the city and its residents, and I want to thank our partners on the La Cañada Flintridge City Council, and also recognize Sen. Anthony Portantino for his leadership on this issue in Sacramento,” Barger said in a statement. “The city made a substantial commitment to this project, investing $3.71 million of its sub-regional share to ensure the project gets constructed.”
A report to address the backlog of sound wall projects countywide was also included in the motion.
Meanwhile, LCF’s $954,000 allocation of Measure M funding for the Foothill Boulevard Link Bikeway and Pedestrian Greenbelt Project will remain. That project, approved by the City Council on Oct. 16, includes new bikeways on the north and south side of Foothill Boulevard with a new, raised center median, landscaping and new sidewalks. The project extends from 2111 Foothill Blvd. to the 2 Freeway on- and off-ramps at Hillard Avenue.
“Greenbelt” refers to a length of landscaping that runs alongside a street, Wilson said. The project is the city’s first “complete streets” project that allows for safe travel by walkers, cyclists, drivers and riders of public transportation, she said.

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