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Scott Wilk: Be sure your voice is heard

Posted: August 27, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 27, 2014 2:00 a.m.
 

I have opposed the high-speed rail project since its inception and am troubled by Gov. Jerry Brown’s single-minded pursuit of it since he took office in 2011.

Brown’s focus on such a “legacy” project comes at a cost of billions of dollars lost in deferred maintenance and improvement to our existing transportation infrastructure in this state.

Anyone who drives the roads in Southern California knows well their deplorable condition. Before we embark on such a “fantasy train,” we ought to fix the existing system upon which our citizens, economy, and future truly depend.

For those reasons, I believe Californians were sold a bill of goods. And with the fits and starts the project has encountered and the resulting dramatic changes to the project from the plan California voters approved in 2008, it is pretty clear to me that given the opportunity, they would repeal that authority.

Still, I am your Assemblyman sworn to uphold constitutional authority. We live in a system of laws, and the high-speed rail project, whatever my opinion of it, remains existing law.

Therefore, as an elected official, it is my duty to repeal it if I can, improve it if I must, and do so as the representative of all the people of the 38th Assembly District.

Accordingly, I am pleased to see the seriousness with which the High Speed Rail Authority seems to be taking the alternate route proposed by Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich for the Palmdale-to-Burbank section of the project through the Santa Clarita Valley.

My constituents in the 38th Assembly District are strongly opposed to the High Speed Rail Project. One reason is the proposed route heading south from Palmdale following an S-curve paralleling the Highway 14 freeway through Acton, Agua Dulce and the greater Santa Clarita Valley.

The route would negatively impact schools, churches and residential dwellings. The proposed route has already triggered disclosure on real estate transactions and is harming sellers.

In addition to the economic and community harm, it doesn’t make sense to have a train route parallel the Highway 14 freeway. As someone who lived through the Sylmar earthquake of 1971 and the Northridge earthquake of 1994, placing the route along the 14 freeway places in jeopardy both modes of transportation when the next large earthquake hits our community.

I am asking all residents of the 38th Assembly District to go on record by the Aug. 31 deadline for local input encouraging the High-Speed Rail Authority to review a tunnel-oriented alternative between the Palmdale station and the potential Burbank/Bob Hope Airport Station that would provide a more direct, faster, less costly, more environmentally friendly and less community-intrusive route between the Antelope Valley and the San Fernando Valley.

Additionally, I encourage residents to ask the authority to disavow completely the originally planned route as a way to reset the discussion and stop the disruption of the real estate markets in those communities.

I believe if the authority was to do that, a more meaningful and promising debate could begin in those communities as to the merits of the project generally.

As for me, as Abraham Lincoln said, “My mind is as open as a 40 acre field ... but that doesn’t mean I am going to change it.”

Still, clearly the alternate Antonovich proposal would provide a “win-win” solution for the authority.

To find contact information and a sample letter to the High Speed Rail Authority, please visit my website at https://ad38.assemblygop.com/ and please do so by this coming Sunday, Aug. 31, so that your voice is heard.

Scott Wilk is a Republican and represents California’s 38th Assembly District, which takes in most of the Santa Clarita Valley.

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