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Is your school in the bullet train’s path? 17 LAUSD schools could be impacted by California’s high-speed rail line

Mike Szymanski | April 4, 2017

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(Courtesy: LAUSD’s high-speed rail report)

As many as 17 LA Unified schools could be impacted by California’s bullet train, district officials reported Tuesday.

The high-speed rail line, which was just approved last month to begin work in the Central Valley, is intended to take riders from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2 hours and 40 minutes. Depending on its route, the rail line may pass by some district schools and go underneath others, said Robert Laughton, the director of the district’s Office of Environmental Health and Safety. He was asked last year by the school board’s Budget, Facilities, and Audit Committee to present a report on the potential impacts of the proposed routes and how local schools would be affected.

While noting that “noise is a key concern for our schools,” the report stated that the noise level would not be any louder than an alarm clock going off at two feet away.

Committee chairwoman Mónica Ratliff, who initiated the inquiry, said she remains concerned about the rail line going past two of the schools in her northeast San Fernando Valley district. Ratliff, who ran unsuccessfully for city council last month, will no longer represent the district after June. Imelda Padilla and Kelly Gonez are now vying to represent the school board district which would have the most schools impacted by the rail line.

HighSpeedRailBroadousMaclayStonehurstGlenwood“I hope that someone else will be on top of this after I’m gone,” Ratliff said. “I do worry about the students getting the education they should be getting. If there is tunneling that goes underneath the schools, it is certainly going to be disruptive to teaching and there are very vulnerable schools in terms of population in these areas.”

Laughton’s staff analyzed the proposed route HighSpeedRailBSunValleyBrainardand two alternate routes that will be presented for public discussion this fall.

“Personally, as a teacher, I would find it very disruptive especially if there is tunneling equipment,” Ratliff said. “Will they feel the vibration?”

“My guess is that they will feel the vibration,” Laughton answered.

Some of the proposed routes take the rail line under portions of Broadous, Coughlin, Roscoe,  Glenwood and Stonehurst Avenue elementary schools and Maclay Middle School in the northeast San Fernando Valley, Laughton said.

The line could run about half a mile from Brainard Elementary School and 1,500 feet from Sun Valley High School, while in East Los Angeles it could go within 1,450 feet of Utah Street Elementary and 900 feet of Mendez High School.HighSpeedRailSotomayor09.07.26

Closer to downtown the line would be near Ann Street, Albion Street, Glassell Park, Aragon Avenue and Dorris Place elementary schools and Endeavor College Preparatory Charter School. The speed of the trains won’t be as fast as they head toward Union Station, and many of these schools already have rail lines near them, Laughton said. The closest the rail line will run is within 600 feet of the five schools of the Sotomayor Learning Academies.

“So, the loudest that they’ll hear at Sotomayor is akin to an alarm clock?” Ratliff asked, looking over the noise impact report from the district. “That still seems kind of loud.”

“That’s correct, but they are already hearing the Metrolink,” Laughton said. “And wherever the tracks cross an intersection, it will go under or over the road.”

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