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High Desert Connector Corridor freeway may finally get built

4/11/2011, 7:41 a.m.

PALMDALE, Calif.--The public will get to comment this week on a proposed 63-mile freeway that will connect Palmdale and Victorville, and provide a safe alternative to a two-lane road known as "blood alley.''

The proposed High Desert Connector Corridor freeway would link the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway at Palmdale with Interstate 15 north of Cajon Pass. It may also be used as a high-speed rail corridor for trains between the Southland and Las Vegas.

The proposed freeway would replace long stretches of existing California routes 138 and 18, which are two-lane roads across open desert with notoriously-high fatality rates. It has been sought by Antelope Valley politicians for decades.

Public meetings about the alignment will be held Monday in Lancaster and Tuesday in Palmdale.

Caltrans envisions the freeway as providing an alternative freeway route between northern Los Angeles County and Las Vegas. It would also be attractive as a bypass around Los Angeles for traffic heading between the San Joaquin Valley and Arizona.

Current maps show the proposed Route 138 freeway branching off the Antelope Valley (14) Freeway near Rancho Vista Boulevard. After skirting northern Palmdale, it would curve south two miles, then head east to Victorville along the Palmdale Boulevard alignment.

It would join Interstate 15 at Stoddard Wells Road, north of the notorious weekend bottlenecks on I-15 at Victorville and Hesperia.

The one alternative route would loop the freeway even further south, to run east and west along the existing alignment of Route 138 at Pearblossom, and then east along Route 18 to Hesperia.

The center median of the proposed freeway is a possible roadbed for the proposed "DesertXpress'' high speed rail line that Las Vegas interests plan to build between Las Vegas and Southern California. That line presently would terminate in a giant parking lot at Victorville, but could be extended down the new freeway 63 miles west to Palmdale.

There, it would connect to the proposed California High Speed Rail line to provide 200-mph rail service between Las Vegas and downtown Los Angeles or San Francisco. The California line is not yet fully funded, but construction is expected to start within two years.

The Nevada high-speed line, which would put tracks in the center median of Interstate 15, is in final environmental studies. Its private owners say they have enough funding to build that line.

Public meetings to solicit comment about the proposed freeway and possible rail line will be held at 6 p.m. Monday at Lancaster City Hall, 44933 Fern Ave., and at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Palmdale's Twin Lakes Community Church, 17213 Lake Los Angeles Avenue.

Meetings will also be held Wednesday at Apple Valley and Thursday at Adelanto, in San Bernardino County.

More information is available at www.dot.ca.gov/dist07/travel/projects/138hdc.