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High-speed rail could be a boon for the SCV

Transportation: Chamber enthused about possible I-5 route; city officials hesitant to celebrate

Posted: May 10, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: May 10, 2011 1:55 a.m.
 

High-speed trains zipping in and out of the Santa Clarita Valley would be a boon to the people who live and work here, chamber leaders say.

City officials, however, say they need to see high-speed rail plans before the community can see the benefits.

“High-speed rail will allow the job market to grow and jobs to be created,” said Dana Cop, chair of the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The California High Speed Rail Authority board voted in Sacramento last week to study the feasibility of bringing the rail through the Grapevine and down Interstate 5. The board has been focused on an alignment that would take the rail through Palmdale, and down Highway 14.

The Highway 14 route included a planned Palmdale station; the Grapevine alternative could mean a station in the Santa Clarita Valley instead.

“Any opportunity to create more jobs is also great since Santa Clarita has become a hub of employment,” Cop said. “I like to call (the) Santa Clarita (Valley) the biggest small town you’ll ever know.”

On Thursday, the rail authority’s board of directors approved the conceptual study.

Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean said she would need to see “concrete” rail plans before assessing its true economic impact.

“An awful lot needs to be looked at and needs to be explored,” she said, adding high-speed rail could give existing transportation a shot in the arm.

“Eventually, they would have to have improved transportation to and from planned stations,” she said. “That would mean enhanced transportation for both Amtrak and the Metrolink.”

Key to any economic boon would be a local stop along the high-speed route.

“One of the questions I would want answered is ‘If there’s a station stop in San Fernando, why would there be a station stop in the Santa Clarita Valley?,” said Michael Murphy, intergovernmental relations officer for the city. “I’m curious to know whether a Santa Clarita station is even a real consideration.”

The Grapevine-alignment alternative was rejected more than a decade ago in preference to the Palmdale route.

Abandoning those plans would be disastrous for Palmdale, officials there said.

“This will have a detrimental effect on a lot of our businesses,” said Stacia Nemeth, CEO for the Palmdale Chamber of Commerce.

“We are opposing them revisiting that plan, because it will have a serious effect on our community,” she said Thursday.

“The whole reason of making Palmdale a transportation hub was to facilitate high-speed rail.”

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