Caltrans and Metro today released the long-awaited draft environmental study for the High Desert Corridor project, which contemplates a new 63-mile freeway between Palmdale in Los Angeles County and the town of Apple Valley in San Bernardino County — along with a possible high-speed rail line, bikeway and green energy transmission corridor. The study also considers the legally-required No Build alternative.
The High Desert Corridor sits north of the San Gabriel Mountains, traditionally the divide between the heavily populated Los Angeles Basin and the rural Mojave Desert. In recent years, however, desert cities such as Palmdale, Lancaster, Adelanto, Hesperia, Victorville and Apple Valley have grown tremendously and now have a combined population near 700,000. The study predicts more growth — and more traffic — in coming decades.
Transportation, however, has remained a challenge in the High Desert with Highway 138 remaining the primary east-west option. Highway 138 is narrow — two or four lanes, often with no center divider — and long ago earned a reputation for its safety issues.
As with other transportation projects, funding for the High Desert Corridor project will remain a challenge. At this time, the project is not funded, although Measure R helped provide money for the project’s environmental studies. Among the alternatives studied is a toll road that could raise funding needed to help finance the project.
The news release from Caltrans is after the jump.