By Cory Rubin, Staff Writer
Santa Clarita residents, council members, and dignitaries gathered this morning to mark the end of a decade long journey with the grand opening of the final leg of the nine mile Cross Valley Connector roadway system.
Planning began 10 years ago, when Mayor Bob Kellar presented the Los Angeles County Transportation Board with plans for a $245 million, 8 1/2 mile, four-lane, highway spanning from Golden Valley Road, an existing 1/8 mile roadway, and Newhall Ranch Road, which was yet to be built. Originally planned to be a series of projects lasting until 2011, the Cross Valley Connector presented a new way for motorists to travel across town, reducing congestion along Soledad Canyon Road, and reducing 5,000 hours of delay daily.
The project would be funded by the Development Impact Fee the City adopted just a few months prior to the presentation. The D.I fee collects $15,000 per home built within Santa Clarita city limits. Industrial and commercial development companies pay a proportional fee per acre of land acquired.
Construction began in 2002 at the helm of Golden Valley Rd. and Highway 14, and at Interstate 5 and Newhall Ranch Rd. Today, the 8.56 mile roadway, runs from Highway 14, through the heart of Santa Clarita at Valley Center Drive, where it meets Newhall Ranch Road, through San Francisquito Creek, over the Los Angeles Aqueduct, across the Santa Clara river, and through the woods to Interstate 5 it goes.
Today’s celebration comes just two and a half weeks after the completion of the 1,100 foot series of bridges that connect the two major halves of the system. The day began with a few speeches pertaining to the roadway’s history and a brief awards ceremony.
Surrounded by an audience of hundreds, Mayor Laurene Weste cut the ribbon, joined by council members Ender, Ferry, Kellar, and McLean, and Congressman Howard P. “Buck” McKeon.
Shortly after, a parade of classic automobiles, led by Weste atop Wells Fargo’s horse-drawn stagecoach, strolled south along the yet to be opened 1,100 foot bridge. Much to the dismay of traffic control, northbound traffic came to a standstill as spectators stared in awe.
After a few minutes, the procession looped at Valley Center Drive and headed back where it began and traffic continued as planned.
After ten years of planning, labor, and patience, the entire system opened, in full completion, today at 2:00 PM.