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Council wants high-speed rail fixes

Residents share concerns over state plans at special meeting held at Canyon Country school on Monday

Posted: June 12, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 12, 2012 1:55 a.m.

The Santa Clarita City Council is preparing to draft a letter that would ask for mitigation of noise, safety and other issues for a proposed high-speed rail train - which would pass through the Sand Canyon area on its route between the Bay Area and Los Angeles - after about 200 Santa Clarita Valley residents voiced their concerns during a meeting Monday night at Sulphur Springs Community School.

The proposed bullet train would pass close to Sand Canyon schools and homes on its leg between Sylmar and Palmdale. Last month, the California High Speed Rail Authority board approved the study of two routes through Sand Canyon, which has some residents upset.

At the special City Council meeting, Santa Clarita Valley residents from Valencia to Agua Dulce voiced concerns about local issues with safety, noise, vibration and the possibility of tunneling the train, along with other concerns about the overall project.

Michael Hogan, chairman of the newly formed Santa Clarita High Speed Rail Task Force and a school board member for Sulphur Springs School District, said that residents he's spoken to have come to a consensus that the train system would destroy the east side of Santa Clarita.

Many residents who spoke asked if it would be possible to tunnel the train underground, instead of having it emerge in the Sand Canyon area.

"If it must happen no matter what we want, have it underground to mitigate the noise," said Canyon Country resident Berta Gonzalez-Harper.

A staff member for the California High Speed Rail Authority - who gave a presentation on the train and worked to answer a multitude of questions from residents - said the cost of tunneling the train an extra two miles through the area would cost roughly $500 million.

Council members asked that City Manager Ken Pulskamp work on drafting a strongly worded letter that asks for better mitigation measures for the train that would be sent to the rail authority and to federal and state legislators.

"I think we should work with (the rail authority)," said Councilwoman Laurene Weste. "I want to do everything I can to protect this community."

The Santa Clarita North option would pass within 400 feet of Sulphur Springs Community 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 Community school and within 300 feet of Pinecrest School.

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 November ballot.





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