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Roundabout open house draws dozens

Posted: March 14, 2013 8:04 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2013 8:04 p.m.
A vehicle moves through the Newhall intersection that is planned for conversion to a roundabout. A vehicle moves through the Newhall intersection that is planned for conversion to a roundabout.
A vehicle moves through the Newhall intersection that is planned for conversion to a roundabout.

Dozens of people sought information on the city’s proposed $2 million traffic roundabout during a two-hour public open house Thursday night in Newhall.

About 25 people attended the event during the first hour of its two-hour run. Attendees circulated the room, asking questions of Santa Clarita city staff and viewing both renderings of what the roundabout will look like and a computerized demonstration of how traffic would flow through the roundabout.

The open house was held at Hart Hall in William S. Hart Park, which is near where the roundabout will be built.

As proposed, the project would turn the existing intersection of Fifth Street, Main Street and Newhall Avenue into a one-lane roundabout, where cars would have to slow down and turn slightly to the right to enter.

In the roundabout, traffic would constantly circulate counterclockwise around a center island, with the option to exit onto any of the three streets.

Since there would be no stop signs or stoplights at the intersection, vehicles approaching the roundabout would have to yield to traffic already in the roundabout, as well as any pedestrians or bicyclists.

Construction on the project is expected to begin shortly after the Fourth of July, according to city officials. From there, the project will take approximately six to seven months and cost about $2 million to complete.

Balvinder Sandhu, an associate engineer with the city of Santa Clarita, said money for the project comes from a federal grant.

Streets near the project, including portions of Newhall Avenue as it runs alongside Hart Park, will be closed during construction.

Both the entrance and the exit to the park will remain open during construction, as will nearby businesses, according to Sandhu.

Sandhu said the city had considered constructing the roundabout in a way that would allow some traffic to move through the intersection on a limited basis, but doing so would increase the time necessary to complete the project.

“Overall we thought doing it this way would mean less time and the least inconvenience to residents,” he said.

Local resident Jeanne Gonzalez passes through the intersection on her way to Acton several times a week.

“Six months?” she said, looking at the poster depicting the timeframe for the project. “It’s going to take six months to build this thing?”

Gonzalez also said she does not have much prior experience with navigating roundabouts.

“But I think we can all learn how to do it,” Gonzalez said.

City officials say installing the roundabout would increase the flow of traffic, reduce accidents and lower vehicle emissions in the area.
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