“High Desert Corridor,” a New Highway for North L.A. County, Moves Forward

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We don’t often discuss issues effecting the Northern parts of L.A. County.  But as a freeway expansion project moves through the environmental study phases towards construction; it’s worthwhile to check in on one of the few new highway projects in Southern California, the High Desert Corridor project.  With $33 million in Measure R funds to pay for the environmental studies already secured  for the $6 billion highway project, Caltrans is moving forward with a series of public hearings in the North County this month.  A copy of Caltrans’ postcard announcing the meetings is available at the end of the article.

So what is the High Desert Corridor?  Caltrans refers to the project as “multi-modal” because it will help move cars and trucks.  Metro, gives a more honest assesment in the project’s homepage.

The High Desert Corridor (HDC) will accommodate an expected three to six fold increase in tra;c between the Antelope and Victor Valleys…

…The HDC will construct a new 50-mile east-west freeway/expressway and possible truck toll facility between Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. The east-west segment would be an eight-lane freeway [including a High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane in each direction] from SR-14 past the Palmdale Airport to 50th St East along an alignment paralleling P-8 in Palmdale; a six-lane freeway/expressway from 50th St East to 240th St East past the planned Southern California Logistics Airport to I-15.

In an era where new freeway projects are greenwashed with claims the project will help clean the air by reducing congestion or reduce the number of cars by encouraging carpooling, it’s both refreshing and horrifying to see a new highway proposed solely because it will create hundreds of new travel lane miles between two sprawled out places on a map.

While there’s little written on this project compared to many of the other Measure R Highway Projects; it could have a gigantic impact on the way in which the region grows.  Consider that the mammoth widening of the I-405 occurring in West Los Angeles will add 25% car capacity to the road, but this project will add between 300%-600% along a 50 mile stretch.

Thus far, there’s little opposition vocal opposition to the project, while support comes in from as far away as Las Vegas.  While Metro is optimistically broadcasting a 2020 completion date for the project, the hearings being held this month are just the beginning of the environmental process.  This process could take more than just a couple of years if opposition to the highway sprouts up as we’ve seen in other suburban areas where people have already gotten the message the highways are the cause of, not the solution to, automobile gridlock.

You can keep up with news on the HDC as it moves towards construction at the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority website.

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