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Dozens attend meeting on high-speed rail

Posted: June 5, 2014 10:22 p.m.
Updated: June 5, 2014 10:22 p.m.

Around 90 people turned out Thursday night for a community meeting to hear the latest updates on the California High-Speed Rail project and discuss the routes being considered as the bullet train makes its way from Palmdale to Los Angeles, which includes potential routes through the Santa Clarita Valley.

The community open house event, held at William S. Hart Park in Newhall, included a presentation on the project, and representatives from the authority were on hand to answer questions.

Michelle Boehm, Southern California regional director for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said events such as Thursday’s provide an opportunity for the public to weigh in on the project.

Public input from the Santa Clarita Valley, for instance, urged authority officials to take a look at tunneling the train as it makes its way through Sand Canyon, an option that is being considered.

City officials have said that option would lessen some of the impacts of the train.

Another of the options being looked at, according to Boehm, would take the train out of the Santa Clarita Valley altogether, — running it directly from Burbank to Palmdale.

Some of those who attended Thursday’s meeting raised issues with the project itself.

“It’s giving us an inconvenience and we’re not benefitting from it,” said Santa Clarita resident Rodney Temple, noting the train is not projected to stop in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Another Santa Clarita resident, Lane Boyer, said he came to learn a little bit more about the possible impacts of the train.

“There were some things that were up in the air that I was able to get clarified,” he said.

Voters originally approved the high-speed rail project with the idea to connect Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim to San Francisco, with links at other large state population centers. The train is projected to travel at speeds of up to 220 mph.

Part of the rationale for the project, according to officials, is to help address existing and future traffic congestion issues, particularly as the state’s population grows.

Local resident Berta Gonzalez-Harper said she thinks that the future will see more people telecommuting to work, rather than hitting the roads.

“I think as society progresses, our pattern of travel will too,” she said. “And the high-speed rail system is going to make less and less sense.

“It’s just not worth it,” she said.

While meetings such as Thursday’s provide valuable input, Boehm said, it’s highly unlikely that everybody will get everything they want out of the project.

“We can build the best possible project,” Boehm said. “We can’t build the perfect project in the community’s eyes.”


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