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Rail plan cuts close

Proposed routes for high-speed trains would travel near schools, homes

Posted: April 17, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 17, 2012 1:55 a.m.

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The proposed Bay Area-to-Los Angeles high-speed rail would take out several posh Sand Canyon homes and a church, as well as send 220-mph trains within a few hundred feet of two Canyon Country schools under one plan being considered.

The California High Speed Rail Authority released details last weekend of three proposed routes that would take passengers speeding along the leg between Sylmar and Palmdale.

One plan would take out homes on Roadrunner Road in Sand Canyon and put the tracks within 400 feet of two schools.

The California High Speed Rail Authority has discussed several options with residents but is most likely to move forward on two different routes, both affecting residents of Roadrunner Road.

The authority's commission is expected to vote on the issue at its meeting Thursday in Sacramento.

The cost of the bullet train, approved by voters in 2008, is estimated at $68 billion. As much as $4 billion in federal funds have already been set aside or spent as opposition to the plan mounts.

A movement is afoot to place an initiative to repeal the 2008 vote on the June or November ballot.

Options

Three proposed routes through Canyon Country are under consideration, and one of them is expected to be discarded at Thursday's meeting.

- The Santa Clarita North option would have the train emerge from a tunnel and cross the southern edge of the proposed Vista Canyon development before passing through residential areas near Sand Canyon Road, crossing Sand Canyon Road on a bridge, and running through the Evangelical Free Church of the Canyons and residential areas east of Sand Canyon.

The train would pass within 400 feet of Sulphur Springs School and Pinecrest School and directly impact 23 homes.

-The Santa Clarita South option would follow existing Metrolink tracks more closely - slowing the train to 200 mph - by emerging from a tunnel south of Metrolink, following the existing right-of-way over Sand Canyon Road, then passing north of Church of the Canyons.

The train would pass within 200 feet of the church, within 400 feet of Sulphur Springs School and within 300 feet of Pinecrest School, but avoids direct impact on the proposed Vista Canyon development.

- Another option likely to be eliminated Thursday would have run along the Santa Clara River on an elevated bridge, but the train would have had to emerge into a trench in the bed of the Santa Clara River, impacting water supplies, wildlife and residents.

Options already discarded would have had the train following Highway 14 closely through the Sand Canyon area, following the existing Metrolink lines closely or extending a proposed tunnel by two miles to avoid affecting residents.

All three were ruled out.

Banding together

Roadrunner Road residents are incensed.

"The shame of this is, whether this is built or not, people can't sell their homes," said resident Michael Hogan.

Some joked about the situation.

"The good news is that it's only going through the upper section of my home, so we can still live below," quipped Bill Gage.

Families would be compensated at fair market value for their property, but residents owning the stately homes on two-acre lots say that's not enough.

"You work your butt off to get something like this," Bill Gage said. "To do all this again, you'd have to go to Tehachapi."

Hogan, who is a Sulphur Springs School District board member, and others recently formed the Santa Clarita High Speed Rail Task Force.

Many of the Roadrunner Road residents are on the task force, as well as other school district workers and a representative of JSB Development, which has proposed Vista Canyon, planned as a multi-use community.

"It's a vehicle to collect all concerns and transfer them to the high-speed rail and high-speed rail board," said Steve Valenziano, vice-chairman of the task force and representative of JSB Development.

One of the biggest concerns for the task force is the safety of students at Sulphur Springs School.

"We have met with the group that is planning that and they say it will never derail," said Vicki Meyers, assistant superintendent of the school district. "There's 700 students at that school."

Residents interested in participating in the task force can send an email to scvtaskforce@gmail.com.

The future

After Thursday's anticipated vote, the two proposed routes will be studied for a draft environmental impact report for the Palmdale-to-Los Angeles section, said Valerie Martinez, communications manager for Southern California high-speed rail.

The report is expected to be released in about a year, but community members can still give input on the routes at http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/contact.aspx.

The California High Speed Rail Authority meeting is 10 a.m. Thursday, at Sacramento City Hall. For more info, go to http:// www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/monthly_brdmtg.aspx

kjonas@the-signal.com

661-287-5517

 

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