The first of a series of high-speed rail system public meetings was held Tuesday at William S. Hart Regional Park in Newhall.
The meetings are designed to give the public the opportunity to ask questions, submit feedback and learn about the project, which will connect the mega-regions of the state and is the first of its kind in the United States.
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“It was nice to see so many members from the community show up,” said Ben Jarvis, associate planner with the city of Santa Clarita. “People had access to the high-speed rail staff. There was a lot of interest there from local homeowners and residents.”
Approximately 60 Santa Clarita residents were in attendance, along with representatives from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, which is responsible for planning, designing, building and operating the system.
Rail Authority officials gave a presentation and provided attendees with an opportunity to speak independently with representatives afterward or submit written feedback.
“They held a scoping meeting to get public comment regarding certain routes that they’re proposing,” said Mayor Pro Tem Marsha McLean. “One of the routes is through Sand Canyon… However, that is not the preferred route for us here in Santa Clarita. We prefer the direct route from Bob Hope Burbank Airport to Palmdale, bypassing Santa Clarita and the communities of Acton and Agua Dulce.”
Santa Clarita City Council members have requested an additional two miles that would take the rail system away from Sand Canyon to avoid homes, Sulphur Springs Elementary, Pinecrest Elementary and Vista Canyon, said Michael Murphy, intergovernmental relations officer for the city, in an earlier interview.
“Based upon information which we have received to date, this potential alignment will be less disruptive to residents of the Santa Clarita Valley and unincorporated areas north of the city of Santa Clarita, including Agua Dulce and Acton,” read a letter written by Mayor Laurene Weste to Rail Authority officials.
“While the city council understands that the environmental review process demands a thorough review of a variety of alternatives, we strongly oppose the proposed surface alignment, as it has the potential of eliminating homes and devastating neighborhoods, two local schools and an approved job center in the eastern area of our community,” Weste continued.
The Santa Clarita Valley public’s response to the system is “varied,” said Jarvis.
“Some residents support the concept of the high-speed rail, and other residents do not,” he added.
The system is expected to run from San Francisco to the Los Angeles basin in under three hours at speeds capable of more than 200 miles per hour by the year 2029, eventually extending to Sacramento and San Diego and totaling 800 miles with up to 24 stations.
The next few public meetings are set for Thursday evening in Palmdale and Monday evening in Acton.
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