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Road block: City tears it down

Speed bumps coming to Benz Road

Posted: September 30, 2008 9:05 p.m.
Updated: December 2, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Residents of Saugus filled two rooms at City Hall as the City Council held a forum Tuesday to discuss removing barricades on Benz Road.

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Amid a mix of boos and cheers from several hundred local residents, the Santa Clarita City Council voted Tuesday to remove the concrete barriers installed last week at Alaminos Drive and Benz Road.

The decision came during a special council meeting requested by Mayor Bob Kellar after more than 300 residents of the neighborhood contacted the city last week to complain about the concrete barriers that were installed Wednesday.

The council also voted to reinstate turn restrictions during peak hours and install 20 temporary “speed cushions” — elongated speed bumps — to reduce speed in the residential Saugus neighborhood.
Drivers are making illegal U-turns in front of the barriers, creating safety problems on the street, said Marivic Francis, an Alaminos Drive resident who opposed the barricades.

“It is a safety issue for our families and our children,” Francis said.

She was one of 50 who took the podium during the heated public comment period.

A handful of Benz Road residents pleased with the barriers also took the podium.

“It’s a pleasure to sit out and not feel unsafe on our street,” said Jim Petrella, a Benz Road resident.
He believes the barriers have improved the safety of his family.

“For seven-tenths of a mile to go out of my way is worth the safety of my daughter,” he said.
The barriers were put in place after the City Council voted in August to try them for three months.
They force Benz Road traffic onto Alaminos Drive, which stops drivers from using Benz Road as a through street.

For the past five years, drivers used Benz Road as a shortcut between Bouquet Canyon Road and Copper Hill Drive. Benz Road traffic increased from a few hundred vehicles to more than 3,300 daily when the road opened to Copper Hill Drive in 2003.

During the meeting, the five council members noted the difficulties of finding the proper long-term solution.

“This is a significant matter for the community,” Kellar said.

Councilwoman Laurie Ender believes the speed humps would be a good option, despite Councilman Frank Ferry’s opposition.

“If we can slow them down, I’d like to try that,” she said.

The City Council’s decision means the city will install the speed cushions temporarily. In six months the city will survey the neighborhood and make a final decision about whether to install permanent bumps.
City spokeswoman Gail Ortiz estimates the temporary speed cushions will be installed in four to six months.

The barriers are expected to be removed Friday, at which time the turn restrictions would be reinstated, she said.

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