After more than a half-dozen meetings and hundreds of comments, high-speed rail officials say they’re still figuring out how to include the public’s concerns in their multi-billion dollar plan.
“We had a good crowd at all of the locations,” said Rachel Kesting, information officer for the Southern California Regional Office of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. “(The meetings) went very well. “Several people gave comments during the meetings. For the next step, we analyze and review all of the comments.”
Los Angeles County officials urged residents that would be affected by the bullet train to voice their opinions and concerns to the HSR Authority.
“Now is a critical time for communities impacted by any of the routes proposed by the High-Speed Rail Authority to provide their input and request information and ask any question they have to ensure that their voice is heard as the authority continues to modify and examine the alternatives that have been provided so far,” said Michael Cano, transportation deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. “Supervisor Antonovich is adamant that the Authority works very closely with all of the impacted communities to ensure that this process is inclusive of the concerns and the voices of all communities in the region.”
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Rail officials held an open house in the Santa Clarita Valley earlier in December followed by a meeting in Acton. Officials are looking at various alignments, and plan to draft an environmental report in the next year, Kesting said.
“We make our next decision based on the comments,” she said. “We haven’t been able to review all of them, yet. We’re going back out there again once we have reviewed the comments and looked at how to apply those comments.”
The High Speed Rail Authority plans to hold more meetings in the Santa Clarita Valley and Acton in the future to collect more public comments, Kesting said.
“We want to hear from the communities and get to know the communities,” Kesting said. “We’re looking at all of the issues that we heard — there were many environmental questions.”
The original proposed plan, the “SR-14 Corridor” alignment, ran along Highway 14 through Acton and the Santa Clarita Valley, Kesting said.
After the first Open House meeting’s public comments, HSR Authority officials proposed the “East Corridor” alignment plan, which would go through parts of Acton and the San Gabriel Mountains.
Santa Clarita City Council members support the “direct route” from Palmdale to Burbank, the “East Corridor,” said city of Santa Clarita Mayo Marsha McLean.
“We hope to be back out sometime next year,” said Adeline Yee, information officer for the HSR Authority. ”Right now, we’re still analyzing the hundreds of comments (from the Open House meetings).”
HSR Authority officials are planning to join local government, community, transportation, business and labor leaders on Jan. 6, 2015 “to commemorate the start of sustained construction on the nation’s first high-speed rail system at a ceremonial groundbreaking in Fresno,” according to a news release.
The event is open to invited guests and media, according to the news release. The exact location has not been announced to the public.
Acton Town Council officials were not immediately available for comment.