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Rail plans look at Grapevine commute

Posted: May 6, 2011 1:30 a.m.
Updated: May 6, 2011 1:30 a.m.
 

The California High-Speed Rail Authority Board of Directors in Sacramento approved a recommendation Thursday to prepare a conceptual study that would examine the possibility of a Grapevine-alignment alternative route which would follow Interstate 5 — and possibly have a station in the Santa Clarita Valley after all.

The route was rejected more than a decade ago in preference to a route through Palmdale with a station there. The train would travel from Bakersfield to Sylmar, through the Grapevine, over the top of Angeles National Forest and across the Santa Clara River.

Board members heard about planning options for five segments of its statewide high-speed rail line Thursday.

The study should be completed and presented to them within three to four months.

“We’re looking at as many alternatives as possible to make sure we construct the best system we can,” said authority CEO Roelof van Ark. “The Grapevine route could offer some advantages by saving time, distance and cost. A conceptual study gives us a chance to talk to the public and stakeholders to determine whether it will ultimately work.”

The board received an earful of complaints from community groups expecting high-speed rail to jump start their shared economy.

Palmdale’s Assistant City Manager Laurie Lile, clutching a fistful of opposition letters including one from Los Angeles County Mayor Michael D. Antonovich, told the board to stop looking at the Grapevine-alignment as an option for high-speed rail.

“We are in strong opposition to this action and we urge you to recommend that this proposal be rejected,” she told the board. “This action caught us off-guard.”

“There is a strong desire for this alignment to be routed through the Antelope Valley,” she said.

“And we’re a little puzzled about the reasoning for this action that is before the committee.”

The authority revisited the Grapevine option last month when staffers discovered the Palmdale plan would prove too costly and require much more tunnelling than initially expected.

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