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Bob Kellar: Live from City Hall

Posted: January 12, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 12, 2013 2:00 a.m.
 

Earlier this month, the United States Congress restored a commuter tax benefit that will help millions of public transportation users save money.

As part of the "fiscal cliff" legislation adopted last week, employer-provided commuter benefits for transit and vanpool participants increased from $125 to $240 monthly, which now matches those offered for employer-provided parking benefits. This means that public transit users can now receive the same pre-tax benefit as those who drive to work and park their vehicles.

The news of this commuter tax credit refund comes at a time when Santa Clarita is expanding its own park-and-ride facilities so more community members can take advantage of the many benefits of using public transportation services.

In Santa Clarita, more than half of the city’s residents commute daily to neighboring areas for work. To better address the growing transit needs of our community, the City of Santa Clarita is constructing a new 4.9 acre park-and-ride facility at the McBean Regional Transfer Station. This station will serve both local and commuter transit passengers as well as potential rideshare participants.

The Santa Clarita City Council, along with federal and local funding partners, will break ground for the new McBean Regional Transfer Station Park-and-Ride Station on Thursday, January 17 at 3:00 p.m. The new facility is slated to be completed by fall 2013. Community members are welcome to attend the free event and learn more about the project.

The McBean Transfer Station is an ideal location for the City’s first park-and-ride facility for community members living on the west side of the Santa Clarita Valley. The existing station, which was built in 2002, will greatly benefit nearby residents, local employment and retail centers, as well as students from CalArts, Masters College and the College of the Canyons.

The $4 million project will increase access to local and regional transit routes, address parking capacity issues at existing park-and-ride areas, and reduce traffic and improve air quality.

In addition to building five new bus bay platforms to accommodate more buses and more than 280 new parking spaces for local and commuter transit users, the McBean Park-and-Ride Station will also include a beautification component. The 4.9 acre facility will include enhanced landscape beautification, the addition of 171 trees with 51 oak trees, a monument wall, public art exhibits, low impact site lighting using L.E.D. technology, a security system, and sustainable design elements.

Federal and local funding partners for the project include the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program from the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA). The Metro’s Call for Projects program also provided $2.97 million to help fund the new park-and-ride station.

Currently, Santa Clarita Transit offers five free parking locations for passengers to park locally and ride with us to surrounding cities and destinations.

These locations include: The Church on the Way Park-and-Ride, located at 23415 Cinema Drive; Oak Creek Park-and-Ride, located south of Valle Del Oro Street on Newhall Avenue; Golden Valley Park-and-Ride, located off the 14 Freeway at Golden Valley Road; Sierra Highway/ Newhall Avenue Park-and-Ride, located next to the Chevron Service station on Newhall Avenue near the 14 Freeway; and the Newhall Avenue/ 14 Freeway Park-and-Ride, located off the 14 Freeway, exit Newhall Avenue. All of these will continue to serve commuters.

The groundbreaking event on Thursday, January 17, is free and open to the public with advance reservations. To RSVP, please contact the City of Santa Clarita at (661) 255-4939 or by email at cknudson@santa-clarita.com. The McBean Regional Transit Station is located at 24375 Valencia Boulevard.

For more information about the McBean Regional Transit Park-and-Ride Project, please contact City Project Manager James Tong at (661) 255-4366 or visit SantaClaritaTransit.com

Bob Kellar is the Mayor of Santa Clarita and can be reached directly at: bkellar@santa-clarita.com.

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