Ballot measure: what you need to know about the High Desert Corridor



One in a series of posts that will look at projects and programs that would receive funding from the sales tax ballot measure that the Metro Board has approved to send to voters on Nov. 8. 

What is it? The High Desert Corridor is a Caltrans and Metro project that would include: a new 63-mile freeway between Palmdale in the Antelope Valley and Apple Valley in San Bernardino County; a 36-mile bikeway between 39th Street in Palmdale and U.S. 395; a right-of-way for a potential high-speed rail line between the state’s bullet train in Palmdale and a proposed bullet train to run between Victorville and Las Vegas, and; space within the corridor for green and renewable energy production and transmission (solar, for example).

Under the proposed alternative, the freeway would be tolled between 100th Street in Palmdale and U.S. 395 in Victorville.

As for the high-speed rail line, if both the Los Angeles-to-San Francisco bullet train project and the Victorville-Las Vegas lines are built, there would be a bullet train network connecting L.A., Las Vegas, Victorville, Palmdale, Bakersfield, Fresno, San Jose and San Francisco. Both bullet train projects still need considerable funding and approvals in order to be constructed, but such a network is certainly an interesting notion.

What’s the purpose? The project “would provide route continuity and relieve traffic congestion between the 14 freeway, the 18 and the 15 freeway,” according to Caltran’s environmental studies for the project. The High Desert Corridor would also serve as an alternative to the congested 138 (portions of which are just two lanes or four lanes undivided) and serve traffic and trucks moving between the Central Valley and the 15 freeway which is used to access points east across the U.S.

What would the potential ballot measure do for the project? Under the revised spending plan released in June, the project would receive $170 million for acquisition of land for the right-of-way in Los Angeles County. Here’s a fact sheet on potential property acquisition for the project. The project would also receive $1.84-billion for construction of the L.A. County segment with a target completion date of 2067. In order to actually build the project, other funding might be needed — perhaps partially from tolls or a public-private partnership.

Where can I learn more about the project? Here’s the project’s home page on (which includes links to a variety of fact sheets and info) and the draft environmental impact statement/report is on the Caltrans site. The final EIS/R still must be released. After its release and a public comment period, Caltrans and Metro will select a final route for the project.

Metro’s ballot measure calls for a half-cent sales tax increase and an extension of the existing Measure R sales tax. Here’s a previous post about the revised spending plan for the ballot measure.

Please visit for more info and use the hashtag #metroplan when discussing on social media. The Metro Board approved sending the ballot measure to county voters at their June 23 meeting. 

Other posts about projects and programs to be funded by the potential ballot measure

Metro’s bold plan to transform transportation (an overview of the draft spending plan released in March)

Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor

Purple Line Extension acceleration

Airport Metro Connector

Rail or bus rapid transit on Van Nuys Boulevard

Gold Line extension to Claremont

105 freeway ExpressLanes

Light rail between Union Station and Artesia

Green Line extension to Torrance

Bus rapid transit on Vermont Avenue in L.A.

24 replies

  1. Another classic example of a freeway-driven land development scheme right out of the 1960s Division of Highways’ / CalTrans’ playbook. Ram a freeway through mostly open land and what appears next: smog, strip malls, ticky-tacky housing and real estate billionaires where none existed before. Of course there’s a token rail transit right-of-way included, but not the trains themselves. I’m still hoping for the helicopters that were promised in the 60s to reduce freeway congestion, but all this scheme promises are more toll roads. We don’t even have the money to pay for the pensions of the “highway robbers” who would be running this project. Vote NO on more “bold measures” and YES on rapid transit and fixing the freeways we already have!

    • Speaking of incomplete freeways, Caltrans and SB county have been derelict in their duties to complete SR-58 (Mojave to Barstow) as a freeway. This effort has been bumbled for FIFTY YEARS and must be done before any new freeway is considered. How many more head on collisions have to happen?

  2. If the right-of-way for a potential high-speed rail line is built would Metro/Ca Trans charge the operator of the high rail for the use of the rail?

  3. California is so expensive already and now we are asked to use our tax dollars for crazy projects , that end up going way over budget. Tearing up our beautiful desert for metal, trash and waste. Fix the roads we have now…fix the pot holes!

  4. Will the PBM include funding for highway maintenance? Just like Metro staff says the proposed 2% for transit maintenance will be insufficient, it’s widely understood that we are not spending enough to maintain our existing highways.

    How can we justify expanding transportation infrastructure when we can’t even pay to maintain the infrastructure we have? Are we living in a throwaway culture where we get excited about things that are shiny and new but soon tire of them and let them crumble?

  5. How about a darn monorail straight up the 405 from south orange county to newhall. You already have the state property, center divider for a raised monorail that stops every mile, and a fast track that stops every 10 miles…. A lot cheaper than what you are doing now with these trains.

    • I like the idea of a rail line running down the center of the 405 fwy. I always thought about a line from “The Great Park” in Irvine with stops at JWA, Long Beach Airport and LAX along with other stops along the way.

  6. I agree about finishing hwy 58 first. But why do they always resort to increasing sales tax? How about cutting fat from our already out-of-control state budget? I agree something needs to be done but am tired of being taxed. Will vote no.

  7. People over here in San Bernardino County will lose their homes so that this useless freeway can be built. Metro, you’re an LA County agency. Stay the hell out of San Bernardino County.

  8. Metro wants to use the tax revenues to build a new highway?!? Do you guys even talk to each other there? Let’s build more sprawling highways while we tell people to use transit more! You guys are a joke. Steve, you should be ashamed of yourself, promoting such a project. Guess you’ve learned nothing about how transportation works and how Highway planning has gotten us in our mess. The solution? According to Metro, it’s to stay the 1950s course and build more highways! While we whisper out of the other corner of our mouth: drive less! What a joke, you just convinced me to vote No and to campaign against this.

    • Measure R included funds for highway projects, just as this new ballot measure does. I encourage all voters to look at the entire list of projects and decide whether that list — which is intended to build projects throughout the county — is something they can support.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

      • Steve, Please explain ti me why I would want to be Tax another 1/2 percent for 50 years and pay a toll to use the new Highway. We are already paying the highest gas taxes in the country for what was for roads but now they spend it on other programs. we are taxes on taxes and fees. Enough is enough, built it with current taxes or scrap the project. If it is built and they make it a toll road, you will never see me driving on it. California has promised the highway for 40 year and our Gov Jerry Brown cancelled it back then when it would have been built for a quarter of the cost.

  9. With the massive increase in population in the high desert, this freeway is vital. The traffic here on local streets and the 15 fwy is unbearable. This will also help all of our commuters tremendously.

    • How exactly does it benefit us by completely bypassing almost the entire San Bernardino County side of the HD? It ends EAST of Apple Valley in the middle of nowhere, and meanwhile, will cut through a couple populated areas requiring people to move. I can’t see any benefit to the Antelope Valley, either. Someone on Facebook proposed building the freeway out to the 15. Maybe that might make a difference, but considering that most of our freeway traffic is Vegas traffic coming from LA and San Diego, I doubt it.

      Regarding local roads? We have two new freeway exits that I notice have already helped move traffic off Bear Valley Road and Main Street.

      Share with me, please. Share with all of us. What exactly is this mythical benefit that will suddenly make Victor Valley residents’ lives a lot easier if this abomination is built?

      • In looking at population growth and projected population growth, we need another East to West flow. There are plenty of East to West freeways servicing the residents below, such as the 10, 210, and 60, but we currently don’t have that option here. I don’t like the fact that people will lose their houses though. My grandparents were displaced years ago when the 210 went in, but we do live in Southern CA, which has the 7th largest economy in the world. Development and change is inevitable even though I don’t like it.

      • Jennifer, this is a BYPASS THAT WILL RUN NORTH OF THE VALLEY. It’s as close to Barstow as it is to parts of Hesperia and Victorville. No, it most certainly will NOT help.

  10. Highway 18 is already right there, just expand it to whatever size is needed.

    • Before the Great Recession LA was the 5th or 6th largest economy, now it is the 7th…”Nothing in written [inevitable] ” Lawrence of Arabia

  11. This is a bait-and-switch proposal. It’s billed as reducing congestion within the core LA metro area by promoting transit. Yet this unneeded tollway across the desert it tacked on. If you want to build this road for which there is no demand, you should put in on the ballot separately and see if people are really willing to vote to tax themselves to build a toll road across the desert.

  12. We pay several gas taxes and fees and noe the want another 1/2 percent sales tax for 50 years and they are going to make this a toll road but they don’t say how much. It sounds like this is going to help fund that High Speed Rail which is a total waste of money.