Antonovich's pitch for Palmdale high-speed rail may not be best for his Santa Clarita constituents.
The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) unanimously approved 5TH District Supervisor Michael Antonovich's motion to officially support retaining the Palmdale Station on the California High Speed Rail (CaHSRA) system.
Santa Clarita Mayor Marsha McLean says the CaHSRA needs to take into consideration the environmental impact along the the Antelope Valley route.
“They need to make sure that they’re not going to be ram-rodding through residences and schools on the way to Palmdale,” McLean said.
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Antonovich, who also sits on the board of the MTA, says the motion was prompted by the CaHSRA decision to “abandon” the Palmdale station.
On May 5, the High-Speed Rail Authority Board approved a conceptual study of an alternate alignment between Bakersfield and Los Angeles – an alternative that would generally follow Interstate 5, along the route known as the Grapevine – to determine if it may be considered as a feasible alternative along with the two Antelope Valley alignments being studied to connect Bakersfield to Los Angeles.
In a June 23, press release Roelof van Ark, CEO of the CaHSRA, said the Authority will continue to study the Palmdale alignment and station options while also exploring the potential study of an I-5 alternative alignment.
“It is our responsibility to study feasible alternatives, but we hear the Antelope Valley loud and clear that they want the high-speed rail system to come through their communities and bring its jobs and economic development with it,” van Ark said.
Antonovich’s office, who referred to the alternate alignment as “once-discredited”, said the Antelope Valley invested millions of dollars in preparation for the system, including the implementation of a Palmdale Transportation Center along the current Metrolink and future rail rights-of-way.
“However, when the Authority made a sudden about-face and decided to “re-study” the Interstate 5/Grapevine alternative, it reneged on its commitment to the Antelope Valley,” stated Antonovich Communications Deputy Tony Bell in a press release.
Bell says the Antelope Valley represents over 10% of estimated high speed rail system ridership:
“A total that does not include projected ridership from the proposed High Desert Corridor and DesertXpress projects that will link Palmdale to Victorville and Las Vegas,” according to Bell.
McLean speculated on the impact of the MTA motion.
“The High Speed Rail folks will obviously take that into consideration and they will make their decision I assume based on the most viable route for them,” McLean said
Antonovich’s motion also calls for the MTA Board to request formally that the September 2011 CaHSRA Board meeting be held in the Antelope Valley and that Governor Brown fill the current Board vacancy with a Los Angeles County representative.
“I would hope that the person they would fill the vacancy with would come to that position with an objective and open mind and make sure all aspects of the High Speed Rail project are looked at,” said McLean.