Transportation talk: Officials and professionals share what’s next

Supervisor Kathryn Barger talks during her inaugural transportation summit on Sept. 21, 2017. Courtesy of the city of Santa Clarita.
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Transportation experts and city and county staff gathered for a round table discussion at Supervisor Kathryn Barger’s inaugural transportation summit Thursday morning.

Attendees shared updates on major projects their organizations are working on, varying from freeway construction to public transportation.

When Measure M passed last November, over 70 percent of Los Angeles County voters approved a half-cent sales tax to go toward road repairs and expand public transportation systems.

“With Measure M, we have opportunities to look at what we’re doing,” Barger, who serves on the Metro board, said.

Fixing roads and freeways

More funding for transportation projects will be making their way through L.A. County through the passage of Senate Bill 1, totaling an estimated $137 million over the course of five years.

For the next fiscal year, the county estimates they will get $43 million for road maintenance, according to John Walker with the Department of Public Works.

The unincorporated parts of the Santa Clarita Valley have $9.6 million worth of projects that could be funded through this.

Barger wants to prioritize funding to move forward with plans to repair The Old Road from Tourney Road to Magic Mountain Parkway, which will require $23 million.

Officials are currently evaluating if it would be feasible to orient some of the funding from the Interstate-5 rehabilitation project to go toward The Old Road project, but said if it would take away from work on I-5, they will look elsewhere.

The rehabilitation project, which cost $171 million, is repaving over 15.8 miles of the freeway between half a mile south of Route 14 to a mile and a half north of Lake Hughes Road.

For the city, two major construction projects are in the works.

There will be an extension to six lanes on Via Princessa, which costs $4 million for the design and $36 million for the construction, but will use $11.5 million in a grant from Metro.

The city expects the design will be completed in 2019 and construction will start in 2020.

City staff is also preparing for a four-lane extension, a raised median and a bike lane between Dockweiler Drive and Lyons Avenue. Public comment is currently open and the final project proposal will be taken to city council next year.

The $30 million project will receive $11.4 million in grants from Metro. After finalizing the design in 2018, the construction will be done in 2020.

Taking public transportation

Metrolink is conducting a study over the next 12 to 15 months to evaluate ways to better the Antelope Valley line, which runs through Santa Clarita.

Currently, the line is too slow and 45 minutes of the commute could be shaved off, according to Barger.

The study will evaluate how services can be improved with the existing infrastructure, as well as what new infrastructure is needed.

To garner community feedback, Metrolink will host two meetings, one of which will be in Santa Clarita.

While Santa Clarita locals want to be able to get to Los Angeles via Metrolink, Councilwoman Marsha McLean said there are issues with schedules coming back to the SCV that need to be resolved.

Attendees discussed plans to extend the Metrolink rail that would take people from Santa Clarita to the Hollywood Burbank airport.

“We are really going to have to prioritize extending the line to the airports,” McLean said. “This is something that is extremely important for our residents and the North County.”

Between Santa Clarita Valley’s three Metrolink stations, there is an average of over 1,000 boardings each day, according to Metrolink Government Relations Administer Alex Davis.

Metrolink is currently updating their web presence and will soon have a newly redone website, a phone app and real-time updates of train statuses.

“We’re going through a technological renaissance,” Davis said.

The city of Santa Clarita is also moving forward technologically, as they launched the pilot program for an app over the summer.

The app, which can be used instead of a tap card to pay for transit fare, will be rolled out by the end of the year, according to City Transit Manager Adrian Aguilar.

Additionally, the city will be switching to compressed natural gas fuel on 15 of their commuter vehicles.

 

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