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Roundabout ready to roll

Construction of controversial Newhall traffic fixture to begin this month

Posted: July 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: July 1, 2013 2:00 a.m.

It’s full speed ahead for the Newhall roundabout now that City Council members have voted to award the contracts necessary to begin work on the $2.2 million project.

Construction on the project is set to begin middle to late this month and will likely take seven to nine months to complete, according to Balvinder Sandhu, an associate engineer with the city of Santa Clarita.

The roundabout, included in the strategic plan for the Newhall area that was adopted by the City Council in 2005, will eventually replace the three-way intersection with signals where Fifth Street, Main Street and Newhall Avenue meet.

Sandhu said Thursday the main purposes of the project are to improve traffic flow and make the area more pedestrian-friendly and accessible.

“We also want the roundabout to provide a gateway to Old Town Newhall,” Sandhu said.

Part of the gateway concept includes a sculpture in the center of the roundabout that reflects Newhall’s historic Western heritage.

To that end, the Santa Clarita Arts Commission held a special study session to examine proposals from six artists vying to craft that piece, according to Phil Lantis, the city’s arts and events administrator.

The Arts Commission will reduce the field to two finalists during a meeting on July 11, Lantis said. At that point, members of the public will invited to help choose the winner.

“They’ll be able to say, ‘I like this one, I like that one, and here’s why,’” Lantis said.

From there, the Arts Commission will make a recommendation on the art proposal to the City Council, which would make the official determination some time in October, Lantis said.

The art piece has a budget of $45,000, according to Lantis.

“This could potentially be the largest public art piece the city has ever done,” he said.

Some of the money for the project comes from a federal grant, though the city is also kicking in some funds, Sandhu said.

The federal grant amounts to about $702,560 and the city’s contribution is $1,497,440, according to Sandhu.

As proposed, the roundabout would be one lane and cars would have to slow down and turn slightly to the right to enter.

Traffic in the roundabout would circulate counterclockwise around a center island.

Vehicles approaching the roundabout would have to yield to traffic already in the roundabout, as well as any pedestrians or bicyclists.

The entire Fifth Street-Main Street-Newhall Avenue intersection will be closed down during construction and all traffic that would normally pass through the intersection will be diverted down Railroad Avenue and Lyons Avenue, Sandhu said.

“We feel that the best alternative is to detour the project on Railroad Avenue and onto Lyons to reduce the time for construction and at the same time lessen the impact on businesses,” he said.

Sandhu said the city considered a construction approach that would allow portions of the intersection to remain open but determined doing so could add several months to the construction process and increase the cost of the project by hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Nearby businesses and the park itself should remain open throughout construction, according to Sandhu.




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