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New high school moves along

Despite roadblocks, Castaic High is one step closer to reality

Posted: January 5, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: January 5, 2014 2:00 a.m.
A rendering of the completed Castaic High School campus A rendering of the completed Castaic High School campus
A rendering of the completed Castaic High School campus

Roadblocks, some of them physical, haven’t kept Hart district officials from making significant progress on the long-discussed Castaic High School construction project.

Gail Pinsker, spokeswoman for the William S. Hart Union High School District, said the district has recently obtained the necessary permits to move forward with building an access road to the school site, as well as a water line.

“We need to have that water line running up to the school site so we can begin grading,” Pinsker said.

Pinsker also said design plans for the school have been sent to the state for review, a process that could take months to complete.

Due to the remote nature of the school site, which is located off the beaten path in Romero Canyon, the district ran into difficulties getting construction equipment in place.

Ben Rodriguez, the Hart district’s chief operations officer, has said site preparation for the project, including grading, should take 12 or 13 months, with actual construction taking 24 to 26 months.

Given the construction time line, district officials delayed the estimated opening date of the school to 2016.

District officials gathered with dignitaries in May for a groundbreaking ceremony at the school site in Romero Canyon, a significant development for a project that has been discussed in one form or another for more than 20 years.

The Hart district has also officially decided on a name for the new school, simply Castaic High School.

Some disgruntled residents set up makeshift barriers using trash cans and even a tractor to protest the fact that the privately maintained Romero Canyon Road was being used for travel to and from the groundbreaking ceremony.

Hart district officials maintained they had the proper easements to use the road and that the road would not be used for construction traffic once work began on the site.

The school project also could be the target of legal action. Citizens for Castaic, an advocacy group, has a petition pending in court alleging the Hart district violated the California Environmental Quality Act when its board approved the environmental impact report for the project.

Another concern cited by the group is dual access for the site. The approved environmental document for the high school outlined plans to eventually build two access roads — the first using Sloan Canyon Road and Canyon Hill Road and the second using Barringer, Romero Canyon, Sloan Canyon and Valley Creek roads.

The school could open without a secondary access route, provided the district takes steps to offset any traffic impacts, but Citizens for Castaic demands in its petition that the school not be allowed to open without the second access route.

Pinsker said the district has started studies on the planned secondary access route.
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