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Newhall roundabout now open to drivers

City officials cut ribbon on hotly-debated downtown traffic circle

Posted: January 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 24, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Drivers loops around the newly finished roundabout in Newhall in front of Hart Park on Thursday. City officials were on hand for a ribbon cutting ceremony before some vintage automobiles made the first trips in the traffic circle. Signal photo by Charlie Kaijo.

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The “aah-oooh-gah” of a 1931 Ford Model A horn sounded over the arrival bells of a Metrolink train Thursday as a small parade of vintage cars made the first circle around the controversial Newhall roundabout, opened following a brief ceremony in front of William S. Hart Park.

Bob Caldwell, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Antique Auto Club, led the group of 1930s-era Fords and a Buick following a ribbon-cutting at the site.

Mayor Laurene Weste noted the opening marked the culmination of the more-than-decade-old Downtown Newhall Specific Plan, whose goal in part was to make downtown Newhall more pedestrian friendly,

“The final piece of the project is the roundabout, which will allow for smoother, safer traffic flow and greater pedestrian connectivity between Main Street and Hart Park,” she said.

The roundabout, which links Newhall Avenue, Main Street and 5th Street in a previously awkward convergence of roadways, drew loud protests when city officials announced its imminent construction, and even more controversy when the city put up money to fund art work for the center of the roundabout.

Public outcry and disagreement over prototypes for the proposed centerpiece sculpture led the city to ditch the art plan in November and go with landscaping. Attractive plants, including roses, adorned the roundabout on Thursday.

City officials regard the intersection as the gateway to downtown Newhall, which has been redeveloped in a bid to make it an arts and entertainment center and a draw to attract visitors to downtown. One of three Metrolink train stations in Santa Clarita is nearby.

Bob Caldwell, president of the Santa Clarita Valley Antique Auto Club and a retired California Highway Patrol captain, was the first to drive the roundabout in his 1931 Model A.

“I rather enjoyed it. It’s very pleasing to the eye,” he said.

Motorists heading down Newhall Avenue toward Highway 14 or back the other way will find the gentle right turn required to enter the roundabout easier than having to stop at the signal formerly there, Caldwell said.

“I thought it would be one of those multi-lane roundabouts, and some of those can be tricky,” he said. “If you’re not really on top of it, you can find yourself going down the wrong lane with those.”

The roundabout’s price tag was $2.2 million, money that came from the city’s Landscape Maintenance District plus $702,000 awarded for the project in a grant.

Construction began in July, and the roundabout was completed a little ahead of schedule. It was due to be open to the public in February.

“We’re thankful for great weather in Southern California” that made the early opening possible, said Project Manager Balvinder Sandhu.


ricketzz: Posted: January 24, 2014 6:12 a.m.

How do pedestrians cross the intersection now? Don't we need a flyover with a bike trail?

bobforte: Posted: January 24, 2014 6:47 a.m.

Good question. I drove through it yesterday and didn't realize there was no ped crossing. Give it a year. They still need to add a bike lane also for the two people in SCV that ride bikes to go to work and run errands.

ohhyaa: Posted: January 24, 2014 7:01 a.m.

What's with the "no turn on red light", lighted sign, at the intersection of Newhall Avenue and Bouquet? Big accident on the 5 last night, so I cut through Newhall, only to come to a dead stop on the Metrolink tracks. Several motorists and I looked at each other in terror, where do we go? And it's not a short no turn time. This along with several other road changes, that were made to accommodate the roundabout, have made this little square of our valley extremely dangerous. Good job puke faces.

ohhyaa: Posted: January 24, 2014 7:29 a.m.

And the Hart Park sign is so bright it's not just a distraction, it's an eyesore and an embarrassment. Come on city council, this isn't Hollywood Blvd, or the Metroplolitan Art Museum. Get a grip.

michaelmyers: Posted: January 24, 2014 8:04 a.m.

Is it me, or was that intersection fine the way it was? You either turn right to go to Saugus. You go straight to go to Downtown Newhall. Or you go strait, turn left and head to the DMV and the such. Sometimes you did have to stop at the light and wait your turn. But if you find that a bother, you really should move to Idaho or somewhere if BFE. --edited.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: January 24, 2014 8:39 a.m.

I wonder if the city will actually keep track of how many accidents will happen in the roundabout within a year. Then they can forward the numbers to that blithering windbag, ScottRAB.

legalcitizen: Posted: January 24, 2014 9:30 a.m.

What a complete waste of taxpayer money.

tpaul: Posted: January 24, 2014 9:45 a.m.

I should open a body shop ....

Jiffy: Posted: January 24, 2014 10:59 a.m.

We should have just kept the roundabout that was in the area in the 1920's.

SCV4ALL: Posted: January 24, 2014 11:50 a.m.

Round and Round our money goes and where it stops....NO ONE KNOWS

cj64: Posted: January 24, 2014 11:53 a.m.

Everyone got a chuckle when the City put in back-in parking on Main Street. Everyone got another laugh when the City restriped Decoro to a single lane. The City had do redo both of these errors after the people compained.

Now for another chuckle, take a look at the link that was provided by Jiffy.
Look at the animation of the roundabout.
Its really amusing to see many "near misses", and the big semi truck that goes over the center of the roundabout to make it through the intersection.

Lets get another chuckle!
Is there a place to stand and watch the real events?

bobforte: Posted: January 24, 2014 12:40 p.m.

Michael, the street was just fine. What they should have done was just straighten Newhall Ave so you didn't have to make a turn to it or from it. The city knows this will not work and that is why they are keeping the two left turn lanes at Railroad and Lyons. This was only one before the construction but they squeezed in a second land after traffic began to back up.

chefgirl358: Posted: January 24, 2014 1:32 p.m.

Out of all the stupid waste of money projects the city has gone ahead with against public opinion, this is definitely in the top 5.

lars1: Posted: January 24, 2014 2:15 p.m.

Hey everybody! It is only 74 days to the city council election.

We should get rid of the people responsible for this tremendous waste of taxpayer money on unnecessary roundabouts, high water demand landscaping, and stupid bugs, worms, and teepee art projects.

Two candidates look responsible. Alan Ferdman and Maria Gutzeit.

Berta Gonzalez-Harper is just another elderly grandmother,
advocating closing small business, by removing the local billboard advertising along the railroad tracks.
She also wants the HUGE UGLY ELECTRONIC BILLBOARDS along the freeway that will make METRO and the CITY alot of $$$$$.

I dont trust Dante Acosta, he seems to slick to me.

I am undecided about Duane Harte and Gloria Mercado-Fortine.

The rest are just joke candidates.

Bigcasino: Posted: January 24, 2014 6:10 p.m.

But, but, it's VERY pleasing to the eye!

bobforte: Posted: January 25, 2014 8:42 a.m.

The thing is so small. We should get about 10 of us or so to just drive in circles all day on it not allowing any traffic to enter. That would back up traffic for a long distance.

My opinion is the city knows this is wrong. That is why they open it so unceremoniously. They didn't want anyone there to bash it while they had their little party to celebrate.

ElizaS: Posted: January 26, 2014 11:34 p.m.

You need to sabotage it for it not to work? Then it sounds like it is working.

ricketzz: Posted: January 26, 2014 5:32 a.m.

When we, eventually, do an overpass over the railroad tracks will the roundabout have to be dismantled? How much extra will that cost, eventually?

After living here 15+ years I am of the firm belief that the City has too much money. They are spending it just for the sake of spending it. When I moved here they were building the new multiplex cinema on Soledad as part of a Canyon Country entertainment district, which also includes the new Darcy library. Now, they want to redevelop the same area, and the Mayor didn't even know we have sidewalks, grass and bike trails along our river, much of which was paid for by the last time the city came here to insult our neighborhood.

bbcalvin: Posted: January 26, 2014 2:58 p.m.

City didn't build the center with the Edwards theater. That is called developers.

bbcalvin: Posted: January 26, 2014 2:59 p.m.

Also there are no plans to put an overpass on Newhall ave.

NotSoAwesomeTown: Posted: January 27, 2014 10:06 a.m.

Drove through/around this intersection over the weekend. I have to say it's just p*ss poor planning on the City's part. What a complete and utter waste of money. The circle is going to create problems, especially for those driving trucks. If my small SUV found the turning radius tight, I can only imagine what'll happen when a truck tries to navigate it - they'll get stuck, and traffic will back up through the RR Ave intersection.

Great job, City!

LStaedtler: Posted: January 27, 2014 10:44 a.m.

The middle of the roundabout has a truck apron (decorative part in the middle) that is designed for trucks to use/go on. City has put out a flyer:

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: January 27, 2014 11:12 a.m.

Let's start a pool regarding the latest waste of money from the City council. I give the roundabout ONE year before it is dug up and replaced with a traditional setup. We just have to hit our quota of car accidents first. If you have to produce a trifold brochure teaching people how to maneuver the roundabout, it's probably not a great idea.

ricketzz: Posted: January 28, 2014 6:55 a.m.

"The nine-acre Soledad Entertainment Center is a joint venture of Concept Center L.P. and the Sulphur Springs School District."

I was not aware that SSSD had a real estate development arm. Maybe they should get with the condo builders over at Wm. S. Hart High School District.

ricketzz: Posted: January 28, 2014 6:57 a.m.

This thing is not in downtown Santa Clarita. The closest thing this burg has to a "downtown" is an overbuilt Australian mall.

cms96: Posted: January 28, 2014 8:58 a.m.

I am a bit surprised that there is very little fan fare with the roundabout. I Was also surprised that another downtown Newhall store store has closed just recently. Tres Sierras Latin market finally threw in the towel. Once again, very little fanfare about this too.
Really sad...

lklone: Posted: January 28, 2014 11:24 a.m.

Two point one Million dollars? 2.1 Million dollars? 2.1 MILLION dollars? $2,100,000? You've got to be kidding!

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