Once the final numbers are crunched Santa Clarita officials hope to tally a 10.5 percent drop in traffic crashes from 2016 to 2017, nearly doubling the city’s initial projection, officials said Tuesday.
Pedestrian-involved incidents are projected to drop 42 percent year-to-year based on data released this week, also. The city is still awaiting final calculations on its crash data for the last year, but statistics so far indicate things are moving in the right direction, as far as traffic safety is concerned. The city tallies crash data quarterly, and submitted the most recent information for the city to The Signal on Tuesday.
City and law enforcement officials said they formed a committee to create a traffic safety plan after there were 14 fatal traffic collisions and 24 incidents involving pedestrians, seven of which were fatal, in 2016. Last year, there were eight fatal traffic collisions and 14 pedestrian-involved incidents, none of which were fatal, through September 30.
“These impressive results demonstrate the resolve of your City Council and Santa Clarita Valley sheriff’s deputies to make our city streets as safe as possible for all that travel on them,” Santa Clarita Mayor Laurene Weste said. “By focusing on the Three E’s: enforcement, education and engineering, we were able to properly align resources and maximize impact for the safety of our community.”
The goal for 2017 was a 5 percent reduction in traffic collisions and a 20 percent reduction in pedestrian-involved incidents, officials said. Law enforcement officials issued 45 percent more citations in 2017 than in the previous year.
“When drivers see one of our motor deputies at intersections or monitoring speeds on busy stretches of roads, they instinctively drive safer,” said Santa Clarita Sheriff’s Traffic Sergeant Scott Shoemaker. “That means less speeding, less distraction and less reckless driving, which, in turn, means fewer accidents on our city streets.”
City officials said the intersections with the most collisions were Soledad Canyon and Bouquet Canyon roads with 16; McBean and Magic Mountain parkways with 11 and Newhall Avenue and Sierra Highway with 10. City spokeswoman Carrie Lujan said the data is from January to October 2017 and data including the final months of the year had yet to be finalized. Lujan also said the three intersections are the busiest in the city.
“Although Soledad Canyon and Bouquet Canyon had the highest number of accidents, that intersection only accounts for a projected less than one percent of total accidents within the city,” she said.
The city’s traffic engineers review copies of every traffic collision report in order to make safety improvements, Lujan said.
“Review of these reports help staff to prioritize safety improvements such as traffic signal modifications, circulation improvements and median modifications,” she said. “Over the past five years, the city has modified 19 signalized intersections to provide protected left turns (allowing a turn on a green arrow only). Intersections are generally selected for protected left turns based on prior collision history and/or visibility issues of oncoming vehicles. This type of improvement has been very successful resulting in a 92 percent reduction of left turn broadside collisions at these intersections.”
Money received from Senate Bill 1, the gas tax increase on motorists approved by the state legislature last spring, is expected to be used to complete work on McBean Parkway from Copper Hill Drive to Avenue Scott and Newhall Ranch Road from Avenue Tibbits to Valley Center Drive, among other streets, according to city officials.
The funds would be in addition to the approximately $9.5 million the city spends each year on its slurry seal and overlay projects, according to a city website. Among the streets that were worked on last year were Soledad Canyon Road between Bouquet Canyon Road and Valley Center Drive, a slurry seal project and Wiley Canyon Road between Lyons Avenue and Calgrove Boulevard, an overlay project.
A slurry seal is a coating of finely crushed aggregate, asphalt and water applied to roads to extend their life while an overlay uses the same materials as a slurry seal on roads after grinding up the old asphalt.
The list of streets for this year’s slurry seal and overlay projects is in the design phase, according to city communications specialist Kevin Strauss.
The city’s general plan includes the extensions of Via Princessa, Magic Mountain Parkway, Dockweiler Drive and Santa Clarita Parkway, city officials stated.
“The four roadways are part of the city’s Circulation Element and are all scheduled to be completed by 2035,” she said. “Santa Clarita Parkway, Magic Mountain Parkway and Via Princessa, west of Golden Valley Road, are currently only part of the plan and their development is contingent upon the Whittaker Bermite site cleanup. However, Via Princessa, east of Golden Valley Road, and Dockweiler Drive are in progress.”
City officials said the Whittaker Bermite site cleanup is expected to be completed at the end of this year.
Lujan said the final environmental impact report for the portion of Via Princessa from its current eastern terminus near Isabella Parkway to Golden Valley Road was completed three years ago. The road’s status is on hold and is tied to the Princessa Crossroads development that straddles the space between the Santa Clarita Aquatic Center and Golden Valley High School. The project includes 925 residential units and 680,000 square feet of commercial space in a business park setting, according to the environmental impact report.
Lujan said the final environmental impact report for the Dockweiler Drive extension from its current terminus near Valle Del Oro to Lyons Avenue is expected to be presented to the city council Feb. 27.
Lujan said the city develops streets and roadways through a variety of funding sources, including the collection of developer fees, grants and general fund dollars.
“The city utilizes strategic plans such as Santa Clarita 2020 to help budget funding for city projects, which include city streets and roadways,” she said. “To sustain the city’s current infrastructure, the city has a 10.5 million road rehabilitation budget, which is used for the maintenance and repair of existing streets.”
Lujan said the construction of new roads has helped relieve traffic congestion, citing traffic relief in Saugus after the completion of Golden Valley Road.
“Prior to the opening of Golden Valley Road, the average daily number of cars on Bouquet Canyon Road north of Seco Canyon Road was 46,150,” she said. “Since the opening of Golden Valley Road, the number of daily cars on Bouquet Canyon Road has reduced to an average of 39,950, an overall decrease of 13.43 percent.”