On the heels of releasing its draft environmental impact report (EIR) for the Lyons Avenue and Dockweiler Drive extension, the city of Santa Clarita is setting its sights on an alternative that avoids extending Lyons and filters all traffic to Railroad Avenue via 13th Street.
“The city of Santa Clarita is pursuing the connection of Dockweiler Drive to the Old Town Newhall area,” Carrie Lujan, the city’s public information officer, said Tuesday. “For the EIR, we had to provide alternatives to the Lyons connection. One of those alternatives was 13th Street.”
Under the draft EIR, Alternative No. 2 would involve extending Dockweiler Drive to Arch Street. That particular route would then continue along Arch to 13th Street and link to Railroad Avenue.
“Unlike the proposed project (extending Lyons to a ‘T’ intersection at Dockweiler),” the report states, “Alternative 2 does not include the roadway segment between the Dockweiler extension and Lyons Avenue, which spans a portion of the Newhall Creek.”
The alternative also calls for the addition of two westbound lanes to 13th Street (in addition to the two existing lanes) and a median and with one dedicated left-turn lane. There would also be two eastbound traffic lanes on 13th.
The new improvements to 13th Street, as well as the Lyons Avenue extension overall, would provide an alternate route to the already heavily utilized Newhall Avenue, Lujan said.
The EIR identifies Alternative 2 as “environmentally superior,” as it would “feasibly attain most of the basic objectives of the proposed project to provide an additional connection from the Old Town Newhall community to Dockweiler Drive as contemplated under the circulation element of the General Plan.”
The city also must still contend with the issue of at-grade crossings. Plans for an at-grade rail crossing at Lyons were scrapped years ago after the California Public Utilities Commission, which regulates rail crossings, said it would not approve any new at-grade crossings in the city. Any new crossing would have to be grade-separated, meaning a bridge, it said.
On Tuesday, Lujan said plans with at-grade crossings are still on the table.
“The PUC has stated to the city of Santa Clarita, in order to move forward with an at-grade crossing, a formal application must be submitted to the commission for review and hearings,” Lujan said. “A certified EIR is required for an application to be made to the CPUC. We will not know if we can move forward with an at-grade crossing until this process has been completed.”
Public comment on the draft environmental report will be taken through Oct. 16. The documents are available for viewing [here] and at the Old Town Newhall Library, Valencia Library and the city clerk’s office at Santa Clarita City Hall.
An additional public outreach meeting is scheduled for Sept. 28. (One was already held Sept. 14). The meeting will take place at 6 p.m. at The Master’s University, 24728 Quigley Canyon Road, Building 35, English and History Center, Room 100. Comments for the outreach meeting must be submitted in writing.
Ultimately approval of the Lyons extension project will be up to the City Council. That decision, Lujan said, is expected sometime in 2018.