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Working on a 'walkable' valley

Posted: October 23, 2008 9:09 p.m.
Updated: December 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Traffic and congestion continue to be top concerns when it comes to increased development in the Santa Clarita Valley.

 
Topping the list of Santa Clarita Valley traffic needs are a road connection between communities, an emphasis on public transit and a "walkable community," according to city Senior Planner Jason Smisko.

Smisko outlined the One Valley, One Vision's draft circulation element during a recent Santa Clarita Planning Commission study session.

The 75-page proposed plan is an in-depth look at how the valley's traffic system would support a population of 445,000 in 20 to 30 years.

Of the 25 items in the full traffic plan, Smisko highlighted a handful aimed at improving flow by upgrading traffic signals to include more left-turn arrows, lane striping, synchronized lights and an expanded and upgraded bus and train stations.

The plan calls for about 100 roadway improvements. Bouquet Canyon Road, Golden Valley Road, Magic Mountain Parkway, Sierra Highway and The Old Road are the higher-profile roads involved.

"I don't think any of these are surprises," Smisko said.

A major aspect is expanding public transit and train services, which are "encouraging people to get out of their cars," Smisko said. "We need to create public streets and walkable communities."

That means turning streets into areas with shorter block lengths, reduced street widths, landscaped medians and street furniture.

During the public-comment period, eight local residents offered their concerns about the plan.
Alan Ferdman, chair of the Canyon Country Advisory Committee, and Tony Natoli, representing Benz Road residents, questioned how much the city is working to address current traffic concerns during their separate comments.

"How can we make our city more accessible with the traffic we have today?" Ferdman said.

Smisko responded that the city is aggressively working on ongoing traffic issues and pointed to completion of the cross-valley connector and the five-year capital improvement plan as examples of current projects.

Tuesday's study session marked the fourth of five such Planning Commission meetings this year. The sessions are designed for city staff to receive input from the Planning Commission and the public.

The final Planning Commission study session is set to take place at 5:30 p.m. Nov. 18 at the Century Room in City Hall. The topic is housing in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Smisko gave the five-member Planning Commission an overview of how the plan was created, the core needs and how to address future traffic concerns.

One Valley, One Vision is a valleywide general plan drafted by the city of Santa Clarita and Los Angeles County that creates a single vision for growth and environmental preservation for the entire Santa Clarita Valley. Officials expect One Valley, One Vision to be adopted in 2009.

To access the entire draft circulation element online, visit www.santa-clarita.com/vgp.

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