Glendale-Burbank Line Scrapping: a monumental act of vandalism
By Ralph Cantos
PE’s Glendale-Burbank Line for it’s time, was one of the best examples of modern light rail transit in California. State of the art, MU PCCs provided base service on the line, along with refurbished Hollywood cars. The entire line had been rebuilt from end to end in 1940 in preparation for the introduction of the new PCCs.
Several miles of the line were on private-right-of-way. Three bridges carried the rail cars over busy streets and the LA River. The mile-long subway provided the line’s cars a fast entrance and exit out of Downtown LA.
Yet all the fantastic infrastructure didn’t mean shit to the management of Metropolitan “Roach” (Coach) Lines that had taken over PE’s passenger service in mid-1953. MCL management had only one agenda, that being the complete destruction of the remaining former PE rail lines.
By the end of 1955, the Glendale-Burbank Line was history along with the Subway Terminal. Rail service on Hollywood and Santa Monica Boulevards had been abandoned in 1953 and 1954. The Glendale line was the last Western District line to fall. Scrapping of the line was agonizing and slow, but sure. The tracks on Brand Boulevard were paved over almost with indecent speed. Rails were pulled up along all portions of the rights of way. The Allessandro cut was taken over by California Highway Department for use as part of the 2 Freeway. The line was being carved up like a Thanksgiving turkey.
For the better part of four years, the line’s three bridges remained standing as a sad reminder of the efficient, former rail line. The end for the bridges would come in 1959. The photogenic trestle over Fletcher Drive, the steel deck bridge over Riverside Drive, and the 20-year-old bridge over the LA River would all fall victim to the scrapper.
And so now, more then 50 years after the abandonment, “modern” buses are mired in traffic. No doubt, had the abandoned line remained intact, it would have by now been rebuilt into a modern light rail line.