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November Ballot Measure : Santa Clarita Expected to OK Road Bond Agreement

Times Staff Writer

The Santa Clarita City Council is expected to approve an agreement tonight with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors that would place a 25-year bond measure on the Nov. 7 ballot to raise at least $160 million to improve roads.

The agreement, which is scheduled to go before the supervisors April 11, would create a special agency to administer the taxes collected to build, widen or upgrade roads throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

The bond measure would add from $75 to $200 to annual property-tax bills, depending on the size of the dwelling. It would require approval by two-thirds of the voters for passage.

Technically, the City Council and supervisors must later hold public hearings to formally create a joint-powers agency to oversee the road funds. But those hearings are viewed as a formality, Assistant City Manager Ken Pulskamp said Monday. The agreement to be considered tonight was hammered out during negotiations between county and city staffs, he said.

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Under the agreement, the first road bonds issued would raise $46 million, about $26 million of which would be used to upgrade portions of six chronically congested arteries: Newhall Ranch Road, Golden Valley Road, San Fernando Road, Soledad Canyon Road, Via Princessa and Wiley Canyon Road.

The remaining $20 million would go toward building the proposed Rio Vista Road, which would roughly parallel San Fernando Road from Bouquet Canyon Road to the Antelope Valley Freeway. City Council members have said repeatedly that Rio Vista would provide a vital north-south link to Bouquet Canyon, where commuters sometimes spend 45 minutes or more just trying to reach the Antelope Valley Freeway about eight miles away.

2 to 3 Years

In a memo to the council, City Manager George Caravalho said construction on the projects could begin in two to three years.

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The proposed agreement would create a five-member board to administer the road taxes. The Board of Supervisors and the Santa Clarita City Council would each appoint two members to the board. The four appointees would select the board’s fifth member, who would have to be a resident of the Santa Clarita Valley.

The road tax would be levied on all property within the William S. Hart Union High School District, which includes most of the Santa Clarita Valley.

It will cost about $110,000 to place the bond measure on the ballot, Caravalho said. If voters approve the measure, the bonds would pay these administrative costs. If the measure loses, the city and county would split the bill, he said.

The road tax was the brainchild of the Santa Clarita Valley Transportation Committee, an offshoot of the Canyon Country and Santa Clarita Valley chambers of commerce. The committee estimated that existing homeowners would generate about $41 million by 2010. Another $115 million to $200 million would be raised from future homeowners.

The Santa Clarita City Council repeatedly has said that easing traffic congestion is its top priority. Since December, the council has approved a variety of “quick fixes” to reduce traffic, from adding turn lanes to synchronizing traffic signals.

Work is scheduled to begin today on one of the council’s major transportation projects--the re-striping of Bouquet Canyon Road to add a third southbound lane between Alamogordo and Newhall Ranch roads.

A yearlong traffic study released in December by the Southern California Assn. of Governments predicted that the valley would need $340 million to construct the new streets and highways it will need by 2010.


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