Monday, February 1, 2010

Phantoms of Mojave Desert Transportation Projects

It's been eerily quiet on the public policy side of two major transportation projects impacting both the east and west Mojave Desert.  I was reminded about these projects when the President announced funding for high speed rail lines throughout the country.  California received nearly 2 billion dollars to begin development of a high speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles.  This would suggest that State and Federal authorities have at least temporarily side-lined the "Desert Xpress", which was a planned high speed rail line from Los Angeles to Las Vegas (a multi-billion dollar project to usher vacationers to the gambling capital of the US seems out of place in today's climate!).  That said, there still seems to be some private capital behind the project, so it's likely to pop up again.  If the line follows Interstate 15 it's impact on the desert's biological resoures could be minimal, however

The second project is the Hi-Desert Corridor (E-220), a snazzy new highway linking Palmdale and Los Angeles, presumably meant to alleviate traffic through the Cajon Pass.  The project however would likely spur even more land development throughout the west Mojave Desert, since San Bernardino County is also planning economic incentives for industry and commerce along the route.  However, I have not yet tracked down any public documents regarding the status of this project.  The last notice indicates that the City of Victorville was supposed to prepare an Environmental Impact Report for the project, but this is not available online.  I'm attempting to track it down and will let you all know if I find it.

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