Poll: COVID-19 most important, local concern; traffic circulation improving

Santa Clarita City Hall, as pictured on Feb. 26. Watson/The Signal
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Local residents cited COVID-19 as the most important issue facing Santa Clarita, a new concern ahead of traffic congestion, which members of the community said they saw improvements in, according to a city public poll. 

From a random sample of nearly 1,250 respondents, 19% of residents said the pandemic was the most important issue, 16% responded with growth and development, 16% said traffic congestion and 13% said public safety. 

“Extracting COVID-19 from the responses yields similar results to 2018 with 30% of responses citing traffic congestion, 26% citing growth and development and 17% citing public safety,” said Jerrid McKenna, assistant to the city manager.  

In 2016, when 570 residents were surveyed, 19% said traffic was the most significant local issue, and 20% cited the same concern in 2014. 

While traffic still made the list of top issues, a drop of nearly 60% of residents this year when compared to 2018 reported that traffic congestion was the most important concern. 

“(T)he city of Santa Clarita continues to implement traffic circulation enhancements to reduce congestion on city streets and increase driver and pedestrian safety,” city officials said in a news release Wednesday. 

For example, the city installed electronic blank-out signs at high-volume intersections to alert approaching drivers, pedestrians and cyclists, “coinciding with a more than 16% decrease in collisions involving pedestrians and cyclists over that time period.” 

In enhancing student safety last year, the city also implemented a “pedestrian scramble” cycle, which was implemented last year at Seco Canyon Road and Decoro Drive near Santa Clarita Elementary and Arroyo Seco Junior High schools. The traffic signal was modified to include a pedestrian scramble phase sequence that allows simultaneous foot traffic while all vehicular traffic is stopped, and is only activated during the schools’ morning drop-off and afternoon dismissal times. 

The city also worked on adjusting a traffic signal at the intersection of Lyons Avenue and Apple Street in Newhall to bring protected left-turn lanes in the eastbound and westbound directions, ultimately reducing traffic queues and spillover. 

Every other year, the city conducts public opinion polls to determine potential areas of improvement and learn how residents feel about the city’s overall performance. The consultant, True North Research, conducted surveys both online and by telephone between July and August, and saw 37% more participants this year than in 2018. 

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