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Work continuing on Highway 126 bridge project

Posted: July 29, 2014 2:56 p.m.
Updated: July 29, 2014 2:56 p.m.

Cars pass by the bridge under construction at the corner of Commerce Center Drive and Highway 126. Signal photo by Katharine Lotze

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Despite a temporary roadblock in the form of limbless reptiles, officials with the county Department of Public Works hope to complete a planned bridge on Highway 126 on schedule.

The bridge, currently under construction, would lift Highway 126 over Commerce Center Drive. Officials say that would improve traffic flow along the road, which serves as a major corridor to some segments of the Santa Clarita Valley, such as Val Verde and portions of Castaic, as well as parts of Ventura County and Highway 101.

“Construction is going full steam ahead,” said Bob Spencer, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Department of Public Works. “The project is a major project and it’s beginning to take shape.”

“We’re still looking at having the project completed in 2016,” he added.

Spencer said current work includes pouring the road surface for the bridge.

“This project will help alleviate traffic and safety concerns that have been there in the past,” he said. “So it’s a very important project from that perspective.”

While Spencer said work is moving right along now, the project was slowed to a crawl last year after workers found a number of legless lizards on the site.

Legless lizards, considered a species of special concern by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, look virtually identical to snakes, but they differ in several ways. For instance, legless lizards have eyelids that can blink and they also have external ear holes, which snakes do not have.

The reptiles were discovered when workers removed vegetation in the project area in mid-October, at which point work at the site was put on hold.

Work resumed on the project in December.

“The issue with the lizards was solved, but we continue to monitor the site very closely for environmental and vegetation issues,” Spencer said. “We still have a team of experts out there and on call to look for any issues that we have to take care of.”

Along with construction of the bridge, the project would also add new lanes on Highway 126, expanding it to three in each direction; add on- and off-ramps from Highway 126 to Henry Mayo Drive and Commerce Center Drive; extend and realign Henry Mayo Drive; and add new traffic signals in the area.

Officials say the project will alleviate traffic congestion. More than 40,000 vehicles can make their way through the intersection of Commerce Center Drive and Highway 126 every day, according to estimates.

“It’s very vital because of the development taking place out there in that region and along that corridor,” Spencer said of the project. “It’s vital from a traffic and safety perspective to make these very badly needed improvements.”

The $50 million project is a cooperative effort between Public Works, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the California Department of Transportation. It is financed with bridge and thoroughfare district fees and grant funds from Metro, according to officials.

Lmoney@signalscv.com
661-287-5525
On Twitter @LukeMMoney

 

Comments

CastaicClay: Posted: July 29, 2014 8:54 p.m.

I see grading around this project all the way to the riverbank. Getting a little head start on Landmark Village?


castaicjack: Posted: July 29, 2014 9:17 p.m.

This so-called "realignment" is all about a developer's 20,000 homes of the 126, on the taxpayer's dime.
“It’s very vital because of the development taking place out there in that region and along that corridor,” So have the developer pay for it and not the public!!!


chefgirl358: Posted: July 29, 2014 10:49 p.m.

So how was the lizard issue "solved", did they squish them all with bulldozers or what? How could this article skim over the entire central issue?


ElizaS: Posted: July 30, 2014 2:20 a.m.

Actually not on taxpayers dime. Its mostly on the homeowners that live within that bridge and thoroughfare district. When each house is built, the developer is assessed a fee. Most often that fee is tacked onto the selling price of the house. The fee is for road improvements in that district and are only paid for those in that district.


castaicjack: Posted: July 30, 2014 10:09 a.m.

The homeowners that live in that district aren't paying the 50 million for it since there's relatively few of them at this time.
The $50 million project is a cooperative effort between Public Works, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the California Department of Transportation. It is financed with bridge and thoroughfare district fees and grant funds from Metro, according to officials.
Ultimately, it's the tax payer that comes up with that money, not the developer...


Rick54: Posted: July 30, 2014 10:57 a.m.

Great job reporting Luke!


LStaedtler: Posted: July 30, 2014 11:44 a.m.

elizas is right. Its not a tax. Its a fee that is assessed when each house and commercial/industrial building is built. You need to read up the difference between a tax and a fee. This part of the Magic Mountain B&T which includes everything west of I-5 from Westridge, Magic Mountain, Commerce Center, and Castaic. Only those buildings built within the district is paying for this improvement. LA County administers the B&T, Caltrans is a partner because its a State Highway so they have jurisdiction over the roadway.


lars1: Posted: July 30, 2014 2:40 p.m.

LStaedtler, and Elizas, you must really think we are stupid.
grants from a tax collector are still taxes.

As of today, none of the 20,000+ homes have been built by newhall land and farm. newhall land and farm has not paid a single dime of the $50 million for this project.

Tell us, since NO HOUSES HAVE BEEN BUILT, NO HOUSES HAVE BEEN SOLD,
how can FEES be charged?

QUESTION: Exactly where is the money coming from for this project?

ANSWER: its coming from our taxes.


cj64: Posted: July 30, 2014 6:33 p.m.

lars1. You are 100% correct.

If an earthquake or other disaster happens, the Newhall Ranch Development will not be built. The Highway 126 bridge widening will still be completed and paid for from taxpayer funds.


LStaedtler: Posted: July 30, 2014 8:06 p.m.

They've changed the name for that B&T to Westside. You can read the report here: http://dpw.lacounty.gov/ldd/lib/pdf/btdr/WESTSIDE%20B&T%20DISTRICT%20REPORT.pdf

There have been lots of commercial/industrial development and houses already built and paid into this fee area.


lars1: Posted: July 30, 2014 11:48 p.m.

Really how much?

I am sure its not $50,000,000.


cj64: Posted: July 31, 2014 1:51 p.m.

I think that the only "fees" that Newhall Land and Farm paid were to bribe
Public Works, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the California Department of Transportation.

Newhall Land and Farms gets what they want from our government "officials".
They bought off our city council members to get the public to pay for the "chloride scam" water treatment plant. That plant will provide the water for the 20,000 new homes.

The bought off city council members are traveling to Washington DC using public, taxpayer funds. They just completed a trip, I believe this is number 30 in the last ten plus years. They are showing disingenuous support for stopping the CEMEX mine. That mine is needed to provide concrete for Newhall Land and Farms. It will also be starting soon.



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