High-Speed Rail Board selects route through Antelope Valley

Marsha Furman was one of many Palmdale residents who attended the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Board Meeting Thursday to voice support for the Antelope Valley alignment.

PALMDALE – Thanks to the overwhelming support from Antelope Valley residents, the California High-Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA) Board unanimously passed a measure to align the railway with the Antelope Valley rather than the Grapevine. More than 300 people attended Thursday’s Board meeting, held at the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s board room, and nearly 100 spoke on this decision.

The City of Palmdale Communications Manager John Mylnar said he was confident the board would approve the Antelope Valley alignment.

“When you put all the arguments on the table, this is the best route,” Mylnar said. “It’s great not just for the Antelope Valley, but for the state of California.”

Palmdale resident Marcus Hennessy gives his support for the high-speed rail alignment going through the Antelope Valley.

Palmdale has the potential to be unlike any other city when it comes to the different methods of transportation, Mylnar added.

“The city is uniquely positioned to become a hub with our interconnection with the bus and commuter facilities, with the airport that we’re bringing online and with the Desert Xpress,” said Supervisor Michael Antonovich during public comments.

The Desert Xpress is a high-speed rail project that will connect Victorville to Las Vegas, he said.

“We’re working on having a spur from Victorville to Palmdale airport, which will also spur economic development, but also is another reason to consider having the Palmdale station for the high-speed rail,” Antonovich said.

Michael Bernick, former director of the California Employment Developmental Department, said this is a key project.

“This is the one project that will really link the valley to the rest of the state,” he said.

Palmdale Mayor Pro Tem Steve Hofbauer said there is very little support for the I-5 alignment.

“There’s a number of advantages for (the Antelope Valley) alignment,” Hofbauer said. “You have a potential for over 500,000 additional riders in the Antelope Valley. You cannot ignore that population area out there.”

Hofbauer said that the high-speed rail would close the gap to Bakersfield and LA as well as have fewer environmental impacts and less potential impact on biological resources. He added that the Antelope Valley route would avoid the national forests that the I-5 alignment would have impacted.

Many Antelope Valley residents who spoke at the meeting adopted Hofbauer’s comments. Some even gave their speaking time so he could finish telling the CHSRA board all of the benefits for the valley.

Rich Poston, the chairman of the board for the Antelope Valley Black Chamber of Commerce, as well as other Antelope Valley residents said they urged the board to strongly vote yes and to move forward with construction of the project instead of doing more studies.

“As the regular face of a rider who will take part in using this system, I’m very much looking forward to it,” said Marsha Furman, Palmdale resident.

Although most people were in favor of the Antelope Valley route, there were a few people who were against it.

John Walsh said the rail should be put back on the ballot to be voted upon again, while Kathleen Trinity said the rail would be a disaster for Acton, where she resides.

“Try to imagine a train going 220 miles per hour every six to 12 minutes all day long and into the evening and how that constant loud penetrating sound would bring stress and disruption,” Trinity said. “If you build this train, it will certainly be the coup de grâce for Acton.”

The opposition was not enough to sway the Board, which ultimately decided to continue to move forward with the proposed route through Palmdale.

“After reviewing the study results and listening to comments from the communities, it’s very clear that keeping the route in the Antelope Valley is the right decision,” said Board Member  Thomas J. Umberg in a statement. “The excitement we have seen out of Palmdale and their commitment to promote a strong system is exactly the kind of partnership we appreciate as we work to develop this critical statewide project.”

In other news at the meeting, High-Speed Rail Authority CEO, Roelof van Ark, announced his resignation, effective two months from now. During his statement, van Ark noted that the Board and administration requested he continue to provide advice to the project through the end of the year, citing the importance in the continuity of management and leadership. Chairman Thomas J. Umberg also announced that he’d be stepping down as Chairman, but will remain on the Board.

  9 comments for “High-Speed Rail Board selects route through Antelope Valley

  1. Dave
    February 18, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Well, some interesting views here. Didn’t know this was a political forum, but OK. First, if you took the time to actually view the proposed routes, which there are 4, going through Acton, you would see that not one of them is good for the town. All of them will disrupt homes and damage the natural beauty of this area. Home values will plummet. If you look at where the routes may go, you will see that there are many homes for sale and being walked away from already. So the “officials” who are choosing where the route will go DO NOT care about the repercussions. Additionally Sand Canyon residents are expecting the same violation of their peaceful community and are selling their homes in droves. Just pull up any realty website.

    Now to politics….The Palmdale train station has been renovating and upgrading for years in anticipation of the HSR going through there. How could they know so long ago. Does anyone believe that the city would spend the money on those renovations without an ace in the hole. You can’t tell me there hasn’t been “influence” in that respect.

    P.S. It IS the democrats fault the state is in this financial crisis. Let’s continue to pay for welfare and illegal aliens while cutting education and public services (ie Police, Fire, etc). Good job dems. But that’s another forum.

  2. January 16, 2012 at 4:43 pm

    3 times as much as 1st estamated and will be subsidized by the tax payers for ever .How maney billions will this cost, and how maney people will rideing on it? I wonder why our country is so much in debt.

  3. Kathleen Trinity
    January 16, 2012 at 12:45 pm

    The proposed High Speed Routes through Acton will send the train through the middle of our town, compromising our schools, or through the northwest of the town, compromising our currently peaceful canyons. The Metrolink train runs on our eastern flank, and as you know, the 14 Freeway runs diagonally through it. We use the freeway, but at least we can get off it.
    Acton is unique not only for its peaceful, rural lifestyle, but for the nature of its geography. It is bounded on the south and the north are bounded by the San Gabriel Mountains and on the west and north by the Sierra Pelonas. This renders it an echo chamber with many canyons multiplying that effect. The more northerly and western route has not been chosen with care. The western design is to elevate the train about 30 to 40 ft. and have it come through precisely at the mouth of Red Rover Mine Canyon where the vast majority of residents, like me, own a modest home which is our sole investment. The noise from a train going 220 mph every 6 to 12 minutes every day and well into the night would certainly degrade the quality of life for which we have so long fought.
    I’m not opposed to High Speed Rail in California and don’t begrudge Palmdale its future transportation, but we must ask what we are doing to our human and natural environment on the way. The Bullet train is not just another Metrolink or extension of the freeway.

    • William
      January 16, 2012 at 2:45 pm

      Well, maybe people shouldn’t live in that nice, peaceful and natural setting and leave it in it’s natural state. Oh, wait. You want to live there, however. Hmmm.

      • Dave
        February 18, 2012 at 4:55 pm

        So people shouldn’t live in these beautiful rural areas but it’s OK for a high speed train to go through them. THAT makes sense. I know…let’s all live in apartments.

  4. Matt Keltner
    January 13, 2012 at 10:06 pm

    Thanks again William, John, Steve and everyone else who went to support this!

    Re: Miss Trinity from Acton who opposed HSR going through her town. I can see where she is coming from. Acton is a beautiful place! Needless to say, I don’t think HSR will be any different than the Metrolink which already goes through Acton. I’m sure the route will be carefully chosen as to where it goes in Acton because I know that there are some very prominent government (county and city) officials who live in Acton, as well as people in the film and TV industry.

    I ultimately don’t think there will be a “coup de grace” for the town of Acton or any of its residents. The route will also traverse the wealthy Sand Canyon area of Santa Clarita before heading up to Palmdale and, to my knowledge so far, nobody in that area seems to think it will affect their quality of life.

    • William
      January 14, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      I read the Antelope Valley Press the next day after the decision and saw that Bill Warford and the Opinion page editorial both wrote negative articles about the High Speed Rail using words like ‘boondoggle’ and ‘train to nowhere’, like they thought that up themselves. Disgusting. I’m glad I quit my subscription to that ‘Fox News of the Valley’ in September.

      They are whining about the money but didn’t the Press endorse Bush and Sshwarzenegger? Now it’s the Democrats fault that California is in financial distress???

      I wish the Press would do us all a favor and quit its operations if and when the HSR is finally built. Otherwise, they are just blowing hot air. Imagine. The local paper doesn’t support a future HSR through the Antelope Valley and the benefits that will result. Who are they in bed with?

    • William
      January 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm

      Re: Acton. I sympathize with the residents of Acton who are concerned about noise or other issues with the HSR and can appreciate that there are people who like to like out in rural areas and keep them that way such as residents of Quartz Hill near where the new Walmart will go or Leona Valley residents who don’t want high density tract homes built in the Ritter Ranch area near them, etc.

      However, I’m sure Acton residents take advantage of the 14 freeway to get anywhere when it wasn’t really built only for their benefit and their cars must create some noise going past homes in Santa Clarita.

      So, it’s always a balancing act. I suspect that many of the prominent people who live in and around Acton wouldn’t be living there if Los Angeles wasn’t nearby for them to work and play in. It’s a matter ‘wanting and eating cake’. Los Angeles residents put up with Acton residents’ commutes past their homes. It works both ways.

      I hope that adds some perspective to the Acton discussion.

      • Live free
        March 22, 2013 at 8:11 pm

        No that is not a “another perspective”, I suspect you are someone who lives in an apartment or in a tract home with neighbors 3 feet away. I am not one of you and have chosen a rural lifestyle. This is America and supposed to be a free country without fear of intrusion from those of your attitude. I have chosen Acton for my retirement because it is rural and peaseful without all the noise and congestion. Do you really mind that I would want to live in this type of community or are you the type that believes you and your types have the right to dictate to me how I am to live? Please live your life as you choose and let me live mine.

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