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City Officials Seeking Clarity On High-Speed Rail Concerns

City officials are still looking for answers as far as whether the high-speed rail proposal will include tracks within several hundred feet of two local elementary schools.

The city held a special meeting in June to address community concern regarding the high-speed rail plans, according to city officials.

One of the primary concerns is child safety, said Mike Murphy, intergovernmental relations officer for the city of Santa Clarita.

As the high-speed rail proposal stands now, an underground tunnel with high-speed rail tracks would extend the train’s path north from the San Fernando Valley.

The train tracks are scheduled to emerge above ground after an 8-mile stretch that will pass below the SCV.

Right now, that spot is near where the Vista Canyon Ranch project, an unbuilt slate of homes on the eastern side of the Santa Clarita Valley, will one day be built.

But it’s also near Pinecrest School, a private kindergarten-to-eighth-grade school, and Sulphur Springs Elementary School.

“In terms of where the track is proposed as it relates to the schools, it’s within several hundred feet -- that’s the concern that the schools have,” Murphy said.

After listening to local issues, the City Council drafted a letter to Dan Richard, chairman of the California High Speed Rail Authority.

“The letter outlined the various issues that the (City Council) had, and also that the community members had coming out of that meeting in June,” said Mike Murphy, intergovernmental officer.

The state committee sent a response, but it lacked the detail that city officials were seeking in order to provide their response to the proposal and subsequent changes, Murphy said.

When city staffers asked if it would be possible for the state to extend the tracks underground for two more miles, Richards’ reply “was not abundantly clear,” and referenced a technical report that looked at extending the tunnel.

However, the letter did not explain whether this report would be part of the environmental impact report that’s mandated for the project.

“There were some clarifying questions that we needed to get answered that weren’t abundantly clear, and that’s what the follow-up was for,” Murphy said.