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Tempers high during Acton-Agua Dulce bullet train meeting

Hundreds of residents turn out to scoping meeting to discuss proposed rail’s route

Posted: August 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: August 12, 2014 2:00 a.m.

Acton residents sent a message loud and clear to California High-Speed Rail Authority officials Monday night: we don’t want your stinking train.

So many residents crowded into the Acton-Agua Dulce Library on Crown Valley Road that the fire marshal ordered the evacuation of the building. The room’s capacity was 78, and by 6:30 p.m. more than 110 people had filled the room to standing-room only.

As a result, rail officials seeking to update residents on their latest train plans had to empty the tiny room twice and give their “scoping session” talk three times in order to accommodate everyone who showed up.

They sought input from residents and asked that they fill out pre-printed cards with their concerns and comments.Attendees were told that all public scoping comments written on the cards must submitted by Aug. 31, 2014.

Residents, however, expressed their concerns and comments regardless.

“Why are we not allowed to speak?” yelled one audience member to raucous applause.

“This meeting is a joke,” yelled another member attendee.

When rail officials asked people standing at the back to leave, a third person yelled out: “Why don’t you leave and let us ask the engineers some questions?”

Two sections

Rail Authority spokeswoman Michelle Boehm talked loudly into the amplified microphone to be heard above the loud disgruntled group, as she explained through video and audio-visual aids, two sections of the overall project — from Palmdale to Burbank and from Burbank to Los Angeles.

Acton’s scoping meeting was the second such meeting held in the Santa Clarita Valley this month. The first meeting was held last week at William S. Hart Park in Newhall and was attended by about 70 people.

Rail officials have proposed routes for the bullet train that would pass through the Santa Clarita Valley but are also looking at an alternative corridor that would take the train on a more direct route from Burbank to Palmdale that would bypass the Santa Clarita Valley.

Attendees were asked to complete a white card to comment on the Palmdale route and a blue card for the other.

But for many attendees, all they needed to know about the route was in the handout map that showed a train cutting through their community.

Mad as hell

“I’m angrier than hell over this whole thing,” said Lynn Bennett who cornered one of a dozen name-tagged rail officials who were on hand to answer questions privately after the official presentation.

To rail official and senior planner Karl Fielding, she said: “Have any of you guys considered how detrimental it is to be drilling under three major earthquake faults and the possibility of triggering an earthquake? I suggest you think this through very carefully.

“And, where are you going to get water for this project? We’re in a serious drought. Even if we have an El Nino year for 10 years, it’s not going to make up for what we don’t have. Where the hell are you going to get the water?

“We can’t sell our homes now because when we try, we have to disclose that there’s a plan in place for a train — so this is affecting us right now,” she told him.

“I’m about to lose my house over this,” she said. “I’m madder than hell.”

Fielding told her: “We are going to do a year of study.”

Acton resident Pam Wolter summed up the frustration voiced by her neighbors, saying: “It was pretty frustrating for people not getting the information they need and they can’t get their questions answered.”

Wolter said she’s worried about construction damaging her home and well. “What is the vibration of the train going to do to my well and to my (house) foundation? I would like to ask them that.”

Concerns in Acton

Long-time Acton resident Madison Peiny said: “This (train) is going to drop the value of our homes and it’s going to ruin this town.”

Angela Togia, also a resident, added: “We could lose our (groundwater) well. It will be devastating for Acton and Agua Dulce.”

“Everybody here should write to their congressman because just voicing it here isn’t going to matter,” she said.
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ricketzz: Posted: August 12, 2014 9:19 a.m.

Yes. Trains in Soledad Canyon will ruin the place. We can't let the trains in.

Idahogolfer: Posted: August 12, 2014 10:36 a.m.

Don't worry. That project will never get off the ground. The state can't afford it and everyone knows it. Californians don't mind paying higher taxes but they will never sit still when the total cost of the bullet train becomes apparent and they realize that they will be taxed to fund it...... especially since it will only benefit a small portion of the population.

chefgirl358: Posted: August 12, 2014 12:00 p.m.

Good for the residents for showing up in force and speaking out!

I too don't think this STUPID FREAKING TRAIN will ever come to fruition, but what I don't get is why they are still moving forward with this silly charade that it's going to happen. Brown will get reelected anyway unfortunately, but this will definitely be a big sticking point against him in campaigning. You'd think he would just let this thing quietly die and go away instead of continuing to push the issue. This train is the dumbest idea and waste of money our idiot governor has ever come up with, and that was even before the water and environmental issues came into play. NOW, it would be political suicide to go through with this with the financial and water crisis we are dealing with.

EgbertSouse4U: Posted: August 12, 2014 12:28 p.m.

Idiotic pipedream for sure. How about just IMPROVING the current state of our trains and adding more options and routes?? How about a cheap trainfare from LA to San Diego... something people can actually use??

Unreal: Posted: August 12, 2014 2:08 p.m.

They should have done a Monorail like Walt Disney, Ray Bradbury or Coverdale & Colits offered to LA decades ago. We had a couple lines but not an extensive line which we needed.

It makes much more sense than underground subway type travel in an area with earthquakes. Also would have made LA special. They also tend to run silent too.

We can blame the Metropolitan Transit Authority for this (also GM who owned part of the MTA). They, and others, used their power to block this. Unions again!

missyJk: Posted: August 12, 2014 3:20 p.m.

arent we paying taxes for this monstrosity the only people it "may" benefit are tourists and yet we are paying for it..we have enough going thru here the SCE power lines for one thing...find another way for it if us Santa Claritans think we may use it, if we are still alive by than we can catch it in Palmdale

Unreal: Posted: August 12, 2014 4:11 p.m.

I agree the power lines and transformers that feed through SCV are and eye sore. I am not sure how the process for these works, I assume they had an easement, but I wish we could have done something to force them to make them less visable.

Observer: Posted: August 12, 2014 6:23 p.m.

@ Unreal: Aside from anyone's opinion on the topic, what is MTA's involvement? I'm not familiar with any.

FunTimeSportSharks: Posted: August 12, 2014 8:23 p.m.

Hope when (and if) there is a meeting about keeping CEMEX from operating in our area the turn out is this good (or even better).

Mrwright: Posted: August 12, 2014 9:12 p.m.

Please remember that this is a very big project. It is currently estimated to cost over $100 billion to complete. Knowing how most governmental projects go, this cost estimate will more than double in the several decades it will take to complete. If you believe this will never happen, be reminded that the State Legislators approved a budget that provides a continuous source of funding in the controversial use of cap and trade dollars to continue to move the High Speed Rail (HSR)forward. If you are not happy about a 200 mile an hour train screaming through your community up to six times an hour, it is time to speak up!! Write your State and Federal representatives and express your concerns about the wasteful expenditure of taxpayer money, the destruction of your community and the depreciation of the value of your homes. There is a lot of political pressure to spend our money so large construction concerns will have work for decades. How about education, existing roadways and other infrastructure projects? Several hundred billion can go a long way to improve our state.

lbbls: Posted: August 12, 2014 9:23 p.m.

Tell me again why this train doesn't go right alongside or above the freeway and avoid all of these communities? Is that just too logical?

Mrwright: Posted: August 13, 2014 1:01 a.m.

Several reasons. The alignment along the freeway has too many turns and changes in elevation, both not compatible with a 200 MPH train. They are seeking alignments that are as straight and level as they can create.

The freeways run right through congested areas as well. The impacts on those areas would be great. Regardless of where this thing runs, unless it is kept underground, the visual and noise impacts will be great.

ricketzz: Posted: August 13, 2014 8:55 a.m.

Nowhere nearly as disruptive as an airport. Think about it. Trains are the future. They will cross the oceans some day.

DMeyer: Posted: August 14, 2014 2:04 a.m.

Now we know who the dummy who voted for this boondoggle is...

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