Anne Marie Whalley: Bouquet needs more than road opened

SCV Voices: Guest Commentary
SCV Voices: Guest Commentary

On Monday evening I joined about 100 other people at a meeting with county Public Works on the closure of Bouquet Canyon Road.

The county knows now that there is a significant impact for people who live and drive Bouquet Canyon Road daily – 3,300 round trips a day. This mountain road sometimes becomes a highway connecting Santa Clarita to points north.

Closing this road for winter storms and black ice is not realistic, especially for six months when we are in a drought.

Last year we were experiencing an El Nino and Bouquet Canyon Road remained opened. This year is to be a La Nina pattern, which is supposed to be drier. And Public Works wants the road closed for six months.

On Monday’s meeting I stated that every agency involved in the repairs of the road and creek have not agreed how to proceed. Those agencies include the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the U.S. Forest Service, Fish and Wildlife, Army Corps of Engineers, Santa Paula water district, Los Angeles County, and more.

Gov. Brown has given the OK to proceed with the work, but still it remains undone. Coordinated final plans and schedules for remediation of creek and roadway remain undone.

It seems like all of the parties involved are public servants, and have difficulties working together to expedite solutions and agreements for the public welfare. Is “the system” really broken, and bureaucracy that complex and sophisticated that it can take years to fix simple problems?

I called several agencies. I was told conflicting stories as to the status of the closure of Bouquet Canyon Road, reasons for the closure, and who was to blame for a six-month closure adversely disrupting residents’ daily lives.

Critical services such as emergency fire, medical, mail, trash pick-up and policing were also disrupted, not to mention people’s needs to get to jobs, schools, doctors, shopping, and meeting other daily needs too numerous to list.

In addition, no prior notice was given for people to make adjustments and plans. Hundreds of people were affected, and given the alternatives to take other longer, more dangerous routes to reach destinations.

Better planning and more considerations should have prevailed prior to closure of Bouquet Canyon Road.

This story of repairing the creek to eliminate water flooding the road has a long history as a problem needing solutions. The water supply mandated by law for the creek has even been severely restricted over the past years due to the silting problem that has dried up the residents’ wells, eliminated stocking of fish, and probably even affected the lives of an endangered fish.

The closure of Bouquet Canyon Road has been a call for action, and now I hope that all agencies are going to sit down together, and make a definite plan to take care of the needed repairs to Bouquet Creek and canyon road.

And still, four days after public works said it will re-open the road, it is closed.

Anne Marie Whalley is a Canyon Country resident.

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