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City official says roundabout might meet some resistance, but benefits are plentiful

Posted: November 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: November 15, 2012 2:00 a.m.
A vehicle moves Wednesday through the Newhall intersection that is planned for conversion to a roundabout. A vehicle moves Wednesday through the Newhall intersection that is planned for conversion to a roundabout.
A vehicle moves Wednesday through the Newhall intersection that is planned for conversion to a roundabout.

Members of the Santa Clarita City Council agreed this week to move forward with a long-standing plan for a traffic roundabout at a major

Newhall intersection.

As proposed, the roundabout would replace the stoplights at the intersection of Fifth Street, Main Street and Newhall Avenue.

City officials say eliminating the signals for a roundabout would increase the flow of traffic, reduce accidents and lower vehicle emissions, according to Ian Pari, the city’s senior traffic engineer.

The city’s proposed roundabout would include a large center island that will force drivers to slow down and turn slightly to the right to enter.

Because there are no sharp left or right turns, drivers can more easily see pedestrians, bicyclists or other vehicles, Pari said.

The traffic engineer said he understands if some are resistant to the idea of a roundabout at the busy intersection. But once the roundabout is complete, Pari said, residents will start to come around to the idea.

Ruben Sanchez, a student at College of the Canyons, said he often studies at Hart Park and could see the benefit of a roundabout.

“It’s obviously going to be better for traffic if that goes in,” Sanchez said. “Well, if the city can afford it, anyway.”

Ben Edwards is the manager of Roger Dunn Golf Shop, which is on a corner where the roundabout would be built.
Edwards also said he thinks the roundabout will improve traffic flow and said he is not worried about his business suffering when the roads are closed for construction.

The council’s action Tuesday night transferred the property proposed for the roundabout location to the successor agency for the Santa Clarita Redevelopment Agency, which was dissolved by the state Legislature in 2011, along with all other municipal redevelopment agencies.

The property transfer was a formality required under state law.

The city maintains the right-of-way necessary to construct a roundabout on the property.

City spokeswoman Gail Ortiz said the next step in the process will be public outreach, including an open house at which residents can learn more about the project and voice any questions or concerns they have.

If all goes according to plan, Ortiz said, construction should begin next summer a little after the Fourth of July. Construction is expected to take six to eight months.

Roundabout construction will entail additional landscaping and beautification work in the area, according to Pari.

The city has also budgeted $45,000 to commission a piece of art to go along with the roundabout. John Dow, chairman of the Santa Clarita Arts Commission, said additional funds for the project will be raised through donations.

“We are thrilled to see artwork included in such a significant project in downtown Newhall,” Dow said.

Pari said the artwork will be indicative of Newhall’s Western heritage and serve as a “beautiful gate” to the city.



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