The Santa Clarita City Council voted Tuesday to move forward with the design stages for the Dockweiler Drive extension project, following concerns raised about public safety, traffic and noise by both the council and the community.
Council members voted 4-0 to award a contract for the design services of the extension in the amount of $2.53 million, as well as to authorize an agreement with the Southern California Regional Rail Authority, which is operating as Metrolink, for more than $241,000 in services such as project management, design review and railroad crossing upgrade designs.
Councilwoman Laurene Weste recused herself from the conversation and from voting as she lives adjacent to the city road, she said before exiting the council chambers.
Dockweiler Drive, built in the early 1990s, currently connects to Sierra Highway to the east and terminates 500 feet of Valle del Oro to the west. On April 10, 2018, the City Council approved the alignment of Dockweiler Drive to connect to Railroad Avenue at 13th Street.
As presented by City Engineer Mike Hennawy, the design contract requires coordination with surrounding property owners and businesses, design of the 13th Street rail crossing and of the intersection at Arch Street, 12th Street, Placerita Canyon Road and Dockweiler Drive.
The extension would bring multiple benefits, Hennawy said, including improved pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle circulation, traffic congestion on Newhall Avenue relief and offer additional emergency access roadway for Placerita Canyon residents.
Students and faculty at The Master’s University, located in Placerita Canyon, have voiced their support for the project, including Mitch Hopewell, interim provost at the institution.
“This road extension represents a critical safety component for our 1,000-plus students and close to 300 faculty and staff who live and work in Placerita Canyon,” he said. “Parking and sound are indeed important concerns to the citizens and to the City Council, but so are lost lives.”
Bill Bolde, director of career services at the institution, reiterated safety by reminding the council about a recent brush fire that prompted evacuations, as well as the recent earthquakes.
Not all residents have agreed with the benefits. Placerita Canyon resident Sandra Cattell said that with proposed lane additions, traffic would increase in the area. She and resident Trisha Lunetta said the city should provide homeowners in the area with public outreach on the matter.
Hennawy said part of the contract includes “extensive public outreach” for residents and businesses in the area. Information is also available on the city’s website, he said.
Mayor Marsha McLean said she would like to receive “precise information” about traffic lanes, headlights and noise as the design comes along.
“We have to make decisions as best we can to accommodate,” Councilman Bob Kellar said, while discussing safety concerns, “and let people have the American Dream.”