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One last bridge

Final phase of cross-valley connector project scheduled to begin within four months

Posted: August 17, 2008 9:47 p.m.
Updated: October 19, 2008 5:02 a.m.

Santa Clarita officials are just one bridge away from completing the 8 1/2-mile cross-valley connector roadway, and construction is expected to begin within four months, a city official said last week.

By December, the city hopes to break ground on the 1,100-foot-long bridge over the Santa Clara River, which will connect Golden Valley Road through the northern edge of Valencia, west to Highway 126.

The $245 million roadway is meant to provide a main artery to ease the strain on the two local freeways and major city streets, including Soledad Canyon Road.

City Public Works Director Robert Newman said construction will take about 12 months "depending on how the weather treats us" once the city breaks ground.

The city is working on getting final approval from the California Department of Transportation, Newman said.

He said he expects the city to be finished with the environmental review this week. It could then take six to 10 weeks to get the authorization to go to bid on a contractor.

"As soon as we get Caltrans approval to go out to bid, we'll be out to bid," he said.

The city began building the six-lane cross-valley connector in late 1999, the first portion being Golden Valley Road from Highway 14 to Soledad Canyon Road. That section opened in 2002.

Last year, the city extended Newhall Ranch Road west to connect with Highway 126. The 1.6-mile extension now provides a direct eight-lane route to and from Interstate 5 and Highway 126.

Although Newman said plans are progressing, completion of the cross-valley connector has taken longer than expected.

City officials originally estimated the project would be finished by 2007, but due to a lengthy environmental review process, that projection has changed to late 2009.

The city still needs about $6 million to pay for the $27 million bridge, Newman said. A large chunk of the $6 million will likely be funded by Newhall Land and Farming Co. as part of its developer impact fees relating to the River Village housing development on the north side of the river.

The city hasn't finalized the details of how or when Newhall Land will pay, but Newman said, "Most likely, as the money is needed for the construction project, they would fund it."

Newhall Land's parent company recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, but Newhall Land has notified the city that the company will be using contingency funding from a group of lenders.

The remaining portion of the $6 million needed will likely come from city, county and federal funds, Newman said.


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