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City To Test Multiple Solutions In Traffic Burdened Neighborhood

Residents complain that Benz Rd. is the new “Saugus Speedway.”

 

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Assistant City Manager Ken Striplin describes the notion of "speed humps" to the Council.

For a group of homes on the northeast end of Santa Clarita,
some residents have been battling for a solution to a nightmarish traffic
situation on their formerly quiet residential street.

 

Several mitigations to the traffic problem were presented to
the neighborhood surrounding Benz Rd.
in Saugus, with residents directly
on the road supporting one option while the rest of the neighborhood embraced
another.

 

Tuesday night, Santa Clarita City Council members found
similar disagreement when it came time for them to make a decision.

Benz Rd. used to connect on
one end to Bouquet Canyon Road
just east of Plum Canyon Rd.,
and was closed off at the other end. However, a few years ago Copper Hill Dr.
was extended through Benz Rd.

The result was a quiet residential street flooded with cars using it as a
shortcut between Copper Hill and Bouquet Canyon Rd.

City studies detected a high volume of “cut through” traffic, and installed
turn restrictions along Copper Hill Dr. that helped to bring the congestion
down. While that has worked to some degree, residents on surrounding streets
claim that it has actually diverted the heavy traffic onto their streets. Furthermore,
those on Benz Rd. are still
asking for further measures to be put in place because they do not believe the
problem has been completely fixed.

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The problem centers around two potential solutions. The first involves City
staff’s recommendation to place up to 30 temporary “speed humps” in the
neighborhood to help decrease the speed of motorists in the area, and ideally
make the shortcut less desirable. While a majority of the neighborhood felt
that the humps were a good option, the outspoken Benz
Rd. residents were opposed.

 

The humps will cost around $150,000 to install, and they
differ from normal speed bumps because their configuration allows large chassis
vehicles like fire engines to traverse them with little delay, while normal
passenger vehicles must slow down to pass over them. The humps would be
temporary and could easily be removed and used in another location.

 

The second potential solution involves placing a diagonal
traffic diverter at the intersection of Benz Rd.
and Alaminos Dr. This would end motorists’ ability to directly connect from Bouquet
Canyon Rd. to Copper Hill
Dr. by way of Benz Rd.
Instead, cars would be forced to take a longer route through residential
streets. This option was overwhelmingly opposed by surrounding residents for
fear that it would simply re-direct the traffic flow problem.    

 

The diverter would be considerably less expensive to install
temporarily.

 

After more than an hour of public comment on the issue, the
four City Council members in attendance found similar disagreement amongst
themselves. Mayor Pro Tem Frank Ferry was not present.

 

City staff had originally requested to install the humps and
study the traffic situation for six months, at which time they would report
back to the Council.

 

Council members Laurene Weste and Laurie Ender spoke in support
of testing out the speed humps saying that the option needed to be explored.

 

Councilmember Marsha McLean said that she could not support
any measure that involves speed humps and instead vowed to support a full
closure of the road at one end.

 

Mayor Bob Kellar expressed his desire to see City staff test
the diagonal road diverter, as he felt that would be the best solution.

 

The Council eventually passed a motion by a 3-1 vote that
will allow City staff to test both options. McLean was
the lone dissenter.

 

Starting soon, workers will take down the turn restrictions
on Copper Hill and install the diagonal road diverter at Benz
Rd. and Alaminos Dr. Then, they will collect and
analyze traffic data during a 3 month period and report their findings to the
council.

 

Staff will have the authority to then take out the diverter
and test the speed humps, again collecting and examining the resulting traffic
data. Pending the first three month’s conclusions, Staff could also recommend
testing a hybrid solution involving use of the diverter and speed humps at
select locations within the neighborhood.   

The City Council urged the many residents in attendance to be patient while the
City runs the tests, and assured them that the project will, at the very least
arm the City with valuable information that would help find an eventual
permanent solution.

 

 

In other Council news, a temporary historic preservation
ordinance gained ground towards becoming effective. Click
here to read that article