The California High-Speed Rail Authority has set a series of open house meetings including one in Agua Dulce on Saturday, Sept. 29 to gather public comment on the Palmdale to Burbank project section, which would closely follow Highway 14 through the San Gabriel Mountains and the Santa Clarita Valley.
“Refined State Route 14” is a roughly 40-mile stretch that would connect the Palmdale Transportation Center in the Antelope Valley to a new high-speed rail station at the Hollywood Burbank Airport in the San Fernando Valley.
The chosen route would follow State Route 14 before tunneling under the San Gabriel Mountains, proceeding along San Fernando Road through the communities of Sylmar, San Fernando, Pacoima and Sun Valley.
Following HSR-hosted open house meetings in Lakeview Terrace/Sunland-Tujunga on Sept. 24, Pacoima-Northeast San Fernando Valley Sept. 26 and Palmdale Sept. 27, the Agua Dulce meeting will take place at High Desert High School from 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 29.
A presentation is set to start at 10:30 a.m.
Meeting attendees “will learn about the staff-recommended ‘State’s Preferred Alternative’ to be carried forward in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement, information about the environmental review to date, and other proposed project features,” according to an HSR flyer.
The HSR expects the draft EIR to be completed and released in late 2019 or early 2020.
Michelle Boehm, HSR’s regional director for Southern California, announced its choice of Refined State Route 14 on Wednesday. HRS officials determined this option cutting through the communities of Sun Valley, San Fernando, Agua Dulce and Santa Clarita would be less expensive than two other options.
The route would still involve five separate tunnels, a number of bridges, and at-grade sections, and could have a negative impact on SCV homes, businesses and ranches, as well as schools, areas of the Angeles National Forest, a small airport and a hospital.
The revised alternatives have been continually refined in Supplemental Alternatives Analysis Reports over the years, most recently in April 2016. This SAA analyzes the three alignment alternatives, including the environmental, technical and feasibility factors that went into these changes, according to an HRS news release.
The SAA report reviews how the alignments affect — or avoid impacting — the Angeles National Forest, designated wilderness areas and the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.
The Palmdale to Burbank project section is part of the first phase of building the nation’s first high-speed rail system.
Santa Clarita City Officials Displeased
Meanwhile, Santa Clarita city officials are not pleased with the proposed route.
“We don’t support anything above ground through Santa Clarita, period,” Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste said on Friday.
The proposed route would still not include a station in the SCV.
“There’s no station planned for Santa Clarita, never was,” Weste said. “We have always said it cannot come up above ground through Santa Clarita.”
Weste described the project as “ludicrous for the public.”
“One of the biggest problems is (HSR is) using 19th-century steel wheel technology,” she said. “It’s loud, difficult, and not 21st century.”
As to what the city can do about it at this point, “We will continue to work toward not having Santa Clarita impacted in any negative way,” Weste said.
“The city is watching what they are doing and providing input in a friendly way as long as that’s what works,” she said. “But we will not acquiesce to above ground through Santa Clarita.”
To view the complete Sept. 19 report on choosing Refined State Route 14, [click here].
For more information, visit the HSR’s Palmdale to Burbank project page.