[Spirit Holding Inc.] – Grading began promptly last week after Los Angeles County approved the permit for the construction of a new access road to the site where the new Castaic High School will be built — putting the long-awaited new school one step closer toward completion.
“When you see the work and how much progress is being made, it makes it real. Castaic High School isn’t just a concept anymore. It’s a physical project making real headway,” said Steven M. Sturgeon, a member of the William S. Hart Union High School District Board of Trustees who toured the site this week with representatives of the project developer, Romero Canyon LLC.
Sturgeon credited the leadership of Hart District Superintendent Vicki Engbrecht, Romero Canyon LLC and Los Angeles County officials for sorting out a series of technical issues to facilitate construction of the new road — including drainage and the locations and sizes of water and sewage lines. Once those questions were resolved, the county gave the green light for the 2,600-foot section of roadway to be built, connecting Sloan Canyon Road to the school project site.
“This is an effort that the Hart District, Romero Canyon LLC and the county have worked on for about 10 months,” Sturgeon said. “Between them they were able to mitigate the issues related to the road permit to give access to the school site, which is key to moving ahead, to be ready for construction so that equipment can pass.”
The timing of the permit is important, he said, because it’s crucial to make as much progress as possible before a potential wet winter that could be fueled by an El Niño condition in the Pacific.
“They’ve been really moving since that permit came through, and given that we could have heavy rains this year, it’s important that the district and the developer make sure the roadway is safe,” Sturgeon said.
Randy Wrage, of Romero Canyon LLC, said the road will be a vital connection not only once the school is built, but also during its upcoming construction. He said grading of the school site itself is nearing completion, so the new access road’s construction is an important step.
“The building pads themselves are ready,” Wrage said. “We’ve completed 7 million cubic yards of grading so far, and the grading of the project site is expected to be wrapped up within the next five to six months.”
The newly permitted road, he said, will call for 900,000 cubic yards of grading as the new roadway will traverse hilly terrain to reach the 58-acre location of the future campus, which is part of a 198-acre total project site in Romero Canyon.
Both Wrage and Sturgeon said 2017 remains the target opening date for the new school, but the timeline of course can be affected by factors like weather and other unforeseen issues.
The school is planned to open first to ninth graders only, with a grade being added each year until grades 9-12 are present on campus. It is being built with funds from Measure SA, a $300 million bond measure that was overwhelmingly approved by Hart District voters in 2008 to fund construction of new school facilities and improvements to existing facilities.
Sturgeon added it’s taken a great deal of teamwork among the Hart District, Romero Canyon LLC and Los Angeles County to keep the project moving forward, and the new road will be an important, visible sign of what’s been achieved so far.
“The roadway is the ‘gateway’ to the site,” Sturgeon said. “That opens up to the pad and frees us up to begin construction. That’s progress.”