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Council demands solution for Benz Road

• Vehicles using street as shortcut upset residents

Posted: June 12, 2008 1:23 a.m.
Updated: August 13, 2008 5:03 a.m.




Traffic problems on a residential street in Saugus are turning neighbor against neighbor and neighbors against the city.

Santa Clarita city officials this week presented the City Council with survey results showing most residents did not want any further traffic restrictions on Benz Road, which sits between Copper Hill Drive and Bouquet Canyon Road in the northeast corner of the city, offering a narrow, residential-street connection between two major thoroughfares.

But after hearing testimony from Benz Road residents who see thousands of cars using their street as a shortcut, the council told its planners to come up with a solution that would satisfy the whole neighborhood, including those who actually live on Benz Road.

"We haven't found a solution yet," said Mayor Bob Kellar. "We've got to find the silver bullet."

"This is not unique to Benz Road," said Councilman Frank Ferry. "Traffic is the No. 1 issue in this valley by far."

Since the county extended Copper Hill Drive east to David Way in 2003, the 26 homes on Benz Road saw a jump in traffic from a few hundred cars a day to about 3,300 a day as the street became a popular shortcut between Bouquet Canyon Road and Copper Hill Drive.

The city responded by conducting traffic studies and posted turn restrictions during peak hours, added stop signs, modified striping, and reset speed and weight limits.

With restrictions in place, the northern end of Benz Road saw traffic decline to 1,800 from 3,300 on a typical weekday, and the southern end saw an average of 2,450 vehicles, according to a 2007 traffic count.

The city's recent survey was sent out to more than 500 residents living on or near Benz Road to ask if they want to see more restrictions on drivers.

But Benz Road residents said the survey was unfair since they were outnumbered by the hundreds who don't live on Benz Road.

"When in America have we said it's OK for the many to trample over the few and deny them their right to pursue happiness, peace and tranquility?" said 29-year Benz Road resident Sandra Edson.

Others who live in the area said they were glad the city asked their opinions.

"I'm thankful for being included on this survey because the changes on Benz Road does affect us," said Susan Wachter, who lives on nearby Kathleen Road.

Council members asked that all possible solutions be kept on the table and that policies can change.

"Doing a survey is all well and good, but it doesn't provide a solution," said Councilwoman Marsha McLean.

The dilemma is not unique to the Saugus neighborhood. As housing developments sprout, traffic-flow planners are sometimes stymied by roads that don't quite meet up with each other, as is the case with Copper Hill and Bouquet Canyon.

Elsewhere in the city, it's roads that didn't used to connect, but now do, that cause problems.

The Benz Road dilemma on Tuesday night's agenda drew sympathetic support from residents of Sunset Heights in Canyon Country.

They see high traffic volumes from drivers using their streets as shortcuts through Canyon Country. The council agreed with City Manager Ken Pulskamp to hold off on discussing the Canyon Country traffic until the city finds a solution for Benz Road.

"These guys are wringing their hands trying to find a solution to this," Pulskamp said of the city's traffic planners. "There's no secret that we're hiding."


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