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Could Alhambra build a park over the railroad trench on Mission Road?

Alhambra's general plan includes a rendering of a possible linear park over the railroad trench on Mission Road. Photo courtesy of city of Alhambra.


Alhambra , CA United States

An idea included in Alhambra’s draft general plan to build a linear park on Mission Road has drawn mixed reaction from city officials and residents.

The linear park would be constructed over the railroad trench on Mission to connect the eastern and western parts of the city and to create new opportunities for walking and biking. It was included as a long-term option to address open space in the draft general plan, which envisions the evolution of Alhambra as a community over the next 20 years.

Planners from Rincon Consultants, the firm hired to write the plan, came up with the idea after touring the city. “Folks thought it was a really innovative for an area of the city that a lot of people would agree could be better utilized,” said Joe Power, principal for Rincon.

The linear park would also add a great deal of park space to Alhambra. Alhambra was estimated to have 0.9 acres of park space per 1,000 residents by a 2016 Los Angeles County park needs assessment, below the county average of 3.3 acres per 1,000 residents.

The general plan places Alhambra’s open space at 3.2 acres per 1,000 residents, a broader designation than the one L.A. County’s assessment used. The city’s calculation includes the golf course. It also identifies opportunities for building pocket parks on repurposed lots and on the city’s 710 stub to augment open space.

Power said that when first proposed, the linear park idea garnered enthusiasm from city staff. Since then, some city officials and residents have expressed concern that such an idea is not feasible.

“I can’t believe any councilman in this city said they thought that was a good idea,” Councilmember Barbara Messina said at a City Council meeting on July 23. She suggested that the idea be taken out of the general plan.

Alhambra resident Michael Lawrence* also wanted the idea out of the plan. “There’s a lot of work to be done to explain to the public in a genuine way how you’re going to address this idea of green space and open space,” he said to the City Council during the same meeting.

Mayor Jeff Maloney piped up to say that he found the idea interesting at the meeting. “We’re a built-out city and we have to look for every opportunity to increase the amount of open space, green space and recreational opportunities,” he said.

The decision is ultimately up to Union Pacific, which has control over the railroad trench. Power said that while the railroad wasn’t currently supportive of the idea, they could change their mind in the long run. Union Pacific declined to comment for this article.

Power said that the idea remains in the document so that city staff can get more feedback on it, but that the idea could be removed if there’s a lack of public support for it.

“If it’s not a feasible idea, we’ll have to remove it and think of another creative way to add open space,” Maloney said in an interview with the Alhambra Source.

*Michael Lawrence is also an Alhambra Source community contributor.

Updated 4:54 p.m. with additional quotes from Jeff Maloney and clarification on how the L.A. County needs assessment and the city of Alhambra calculate open space.

Email Alhambra’s community development department with your comments on the general plan at generalplan@cityofalhambra.org. Find the general plan and related documents here.

The city of Alhambra is also hosting a community meeting on the general plan on Tuesday, Sept. 11. More info here.

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4 thoughts on “Could Alhambra build a park over the railroad trench on Mission Road?”

  1. #1 UPRR tracks serve the entire US thru the trench and are federal jurisdiction…
    #2 UPRR answers only to Fed. jurisdiction-agencies
    #3 Bridges are allowed to cross..but only if UPRR approves all everything…and the City Pays for everything.
    #4 If City could get anything approved…costs wouldd be about $1M/foot – 16,000ft x $0.5M/ft (econ.ofscale) === $8B for a park
    #5 Focus park needs on the Golf Course and the SW industrial area and “The alhambra”.

  2. What a great idea.

    You just need the permission of the rail road company (almost impossible) and a lot of money to make it happen.

    This is a pipe dream.

    My question would be: Has anybody done something similar in the US and what did it cost per rail road track mile?

  3. This is smoke and mirrors! Mayor Maloney insisted this stay in the plan against the rest of the council and city manager’s direction to remove it. This is after he conceded that it would more likely never be built. Why? Adding it to the plan increases the green/park space count to a more acceptable level when in reality Alhambra is rated as park poor by the County of Los Angeles. The plan also uses the trench to add a class 1 bike lane that Rincon states will connect us to the bike network in other cities. This shows that the plan lacks credibility when such key elements like park space and mobility are addressed with unrealistic solutions. Why mislead the residents with such nonsense? Officials at Union Pacific told me they never once talked to Rincon or the city about building a park over the train tracks. Getting an accurate count on our existing green space is the first step to finding a solution to our existing need for more space. Fooling the public with pretty conceptual drawings is deceitful. This must be taken out of the plan and replaced with real solutions. Mayor Maloney be honest with the residents and work on increasing our park space with concrete ideas not fantasy.

  4. There is no linear park in the world over operational train tracks, period. The reasons: too dangerous, too costly (talking close to $1 billion for the length Alhambra is proposing), engineering obstacles. This is pie in the sky, and city hall is pulling the wool over its residents for proposing such a concept. The Union Pacific is not going to allow it now or in 20 years. UP will never allow a linear park as long as the train tench is operational. This is a cop out by city hall and Ricon Consultants, which was paid over $700,000 to write the new general plan. The City is also fudging its open park space numbers by including the golf course (which is not free), train trench, school grounds not open to the public, and medians as open park space. Alhambrans deserve better.

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