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Vote on rail segment delayed

Posted: April 19, 2012 5:05 p.m.
Updated: April 19, 2012 5:05 p.m.

Members of the California High Speed Rail Authority board failed to vote as scheduled Thursday on a proposed Sand Canyon bullet train route because they ran out of time, a spokeswoman said.

The board released details last weekend of three proposed routes for the Bay Area-to-Los Angeles train that would take passengers speeding along the leg between Sylmar and Palmdale at the mouth of Sand Canyon.

Two of the options would be studied and the third discarded Thursday if the board had approved its staff's recommendations. But the board didn't get that far on its agenda.

A high-speed rail spokeswoman said the board had reserved Sacramento City Hall chambers from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Thursday and didn't make it to the agenda item before it ran out of time.

The board is now scheduled to vote on the item at its next meeting, which will be held in Fresno May 2 and 3.

The Santa Clarita North option would pass within 400 feet of Sulphur Springs School and Pinecrest School, run through the Evangelical Free Church of the Canyons, and directly impact 23 homes.

Under the Santa Clarita South option, the train would follow existing Metrolink tracks more closely and pass within 200 feet of the church, within 400 feet of Sulphur Springs School and within 300 feet of Pinecrest School.

Rail staff has recommended that the Santa Clarita North and Santa Clarita South routes be studied further and a third option of running along the Santa Clara River be discarded.

Steve Valenziano, the vice chairman of a group recently organized to provide local input on the plans, spoke at the meeting in Sacramento to promote a more blended design with the Antelope Valley Metrolink line, "... sparing us from the pain and no gain of the high-speed train."

Santa Clarita's intergovernmental officer also spoke at the meeting, asking that the board consider including a tunnel route, previously eliminated by the board, through the Sand Canyon area.

"The city is not advocating the tunneling option," Mike Murphy said in a phone interview. "We're just asking that they look at the third option."

The cost of the bullet train, approved by voters in 2008, is currently estimated at $68 billion. As much as $4 billion in federal funds have already been set aside or spent as opposition to the plan mounts.

A movement is afoot to place an initiative to repeal the 2008 vote on the June or November ballot.





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