Transportation Projects Planned For The High

Transportation Projects Planned For The High Desert

By Jane Dreher
Public Information Officer SANBAG

San Bernardino Associated Governments, known as SANBAG, is the council of governments and transportation planning agency for San Bernardino County. SANBAG is responsible for cooperative regional planning and furthering an efficient multi-modal transportation system countywide. SANBAG serves the 2.1 million residents of San Bernardino County.
As the County Transportation Commission, SANBAG supports freeway construction projects, regional and local road improvements, train and bus transportation, railroad crossings, call boxes, ridesharing, air quality and congestion management efforts, and long-term planning studies. SANBAG administers Measure I, the half-cent transportation sales tax originally approved by county voters in 1989 and reapproved to extend from 2010-2040.
SANBAG looks at the transportation needs of the entire county and breaks into specialized committees, such as the Mountain Desert Region Committee. This includes board members from the high desert region who have interest and knowledge about projects in their area.
There are many transportation planning efforts in progress that will benefit the residents of the High Desert. Following is a summary of some of the long-term projects being planned now and for the future.
I-15/I-215 Interchange in Devore
SANBAG, in cooperation with California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) proposes to reconfigure the Interstate 15/Interstate 215 (I-15/I-215) Interchange near Devore, (unincorporated area), County of San Bernardino, CA. These sections of highway are access controlled Interstate Freeways adopted by the California Transportation Commission (CTC) in 1959 & 1963. The purpose of the proposed project is to eliminate congestion, reduce accidents, restore route continuity for I-15, construct truck By-Pass lanes, and improve non-standard weaving between interchanges. Several alternatives are still being evaluated and range from $369 million to $468 million for the total project cost.
Construction is estimated to begin in 2013 and be completed in 4 to 5 years. If the project is chosen by the California Transportation Commission to be to one of five “Design-Build” projects in the State, the project development/construction duration could be shortened by 2-3 years.
SR138 Widening Project
State Route 138 is located in the Cajon Pass and connects to I-14 in Palmdale. This project will widen State Route 138 to four lanes with a four-foot median buffer from SR-18 in Los Angeles County to Interstate 15 in San Bernardino County. This project will also construct turn pockets at selected local intersections, upgrade shoulders to current standards, extend drainage as necessary, and construct two wildlife-crossing structures. The beginning of construction is scheduled for 2012. Caltrans is the lead agency.
High Desert Corridor – Phase One
This project includes the construction of a new interchange near Falchion Road in the City of Victorville along with a new four-lane expressway. This project is a new 21 mile highway, realigning State Route 18 (SR -18) from the east side of Apple Valley to the existing US Highway-395 south of Air Expressway. It is currently in the Project Approval and Environmental Document phase, which is expected to be completed in mid-2012, with construction anticipated for 2015.
High Desert Corridor
SANBAG has identified the High Desert Corridor (HDC), a public private partnership, to be a high priority project. San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties have created a Joint Powers Authority (JPA) to accelerate development of the HDC, and provide decision making coordination for cities and transportation agencies. The HDC provides a vital missing link in the National Highway System between California’s two major North/South Interstates, the I-5 and I-15.
The HDC/I-15 Interchange is part of the first phase of this project. In Section 1305 of SAFETEA-LU (a Federal funding source titled “Safe Accountable Flexible Efficient Transportation Equity Act – A Legacy for Users”), the HDC/ E-220 was officially designated as a High Priority Corridor on the National Highway System from I-5 in Los Angeles to Las Vegas, via Palmdale and Victorville. The HDC project will be a 50-mile, six-lane expressway that could accommodate High Speed Rail, and will connect the fast growing population centers in the Antelope and Victor Valleys.
LaMesa/Nisqualli Road Interchange
This new interchange will provide an alternative to Bear Valley Road, which is currently the primary exit to the Victor Valley Regional Mall and a major street that serves the cities of Hesperia, Victorville, and the Town of Apple Valley. The LaMesa/Nisqualli Interchange is an important part of a regional corridor that will extend from Interstate 15 to the Town of Apple Valley. Construction is scheduled to start in late 2010. The City of Victorville is the lead agency.
Yucca Loma Bridge
The proposed Yucca Loma Bridge will connect Yucca Loma Road on the Apple Valley side of the Mojave River with Yates Road on the Victorville side. The new roadway and bridge would carry vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The environmental document is in the final approval stages. Construction is estimated to begin in Summer 2010 and should be completed in early 2012. The cost of the bridge is estimated at $50 million. The Town of Apple Valley is the lead agency on this project.
Nisqualli to Yucca Loma Corridor
This project will create an alternate east/west corridor that will provide congestion relief for the I-15 Interchanges at Bear Valley Road and Palmdale Road, as well as State Route 18 at D Street in Victorville. In addition, the Yucca Loma Bridge will provide the Town of Apple Valley with another crossing of the Mojave River and connect the urban/commercial cores of Victorville and Apple Valley. Starting at the corridor’s east end, the Bridge will connect Yucca Loma Road to Yates Road, which will then connect to Hesperia Road via a new grade separation/bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks. Drivers will then have easy access to Interstate 15 using the new interchange at LaMesa/Nisqualli Road on the west end of the corridor.
Ranchero Road Interchange
The proposed Ranchero Road Interchange at Interstate 15 is located in the City of Hesperia, approximately 1.78 miles north of the existing Oak Hills Road Overcrossing and approximately 1.42 miles from the existing US-395 Connection Overcrossing. The Ranchero Road Interchange will include the construction of ramps to serve four entrance and exit moves, construction of a new overcrossing structure at the I-15 freeway to provide east/west connections, and realign the frontage roads—Caliente Road and Mariposa Road—on either side of the freeway. The cost is anticipated at $80 million. Construction is scheduled to begin in July 2011. The City of Hesperia is the lead agency.
US-395 widening
This project will widen US-395 to four lanes, construct a left-turn section and standard shoulders. This project will widen or replace the structure over the California Aqueduct. The environmental document phase was completed in December 2009 and the project has entered the final design phase. The 12.5 miles of the project is being designed for construction phasing.
Victor Valley Transit Authority
The Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA) provides local bus service for the communities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville, and several unincorporated areas in San Bernardino County. VVTA currently operates its fleet from a facility located in Hesperia and is preparing to construct a new Victor Valley Transit Facility to house administrative, maintenance, and operations functions, along with the larger fleet. SANBAG is working with VVTA to obtain funding for this project. VVTA is one of five transit agencies that SANBAG supports countywide.
Lenwood Road Grade Separation
The Lenwood Road grade separation at the BNSF Cajon Line (with shared use by the Union Pacific) is the northernmost of the Alameda Corridor East grade separation projects in San Bernardino County. Lenwood Road provides a northwesterly connection between Interstate 15 (I-15) and State Route 58 (SR-58), both of which are among California’s key goods movement corridors. Because of Barstow’s strategic location at the intersection of these two facilities, the area adjacent to Lenwood Road is increasingly being developed as a warehousing and distribution center in close proximity to Barstow’s extensive rail yards. Lenwood Road is also the primary point of access to the Barstow Industrial Park, which is projected to create as many as 10,000 jobs when completely built out. Currently, truck traffic travels eight miles out of the way to avoid the Lenwood Road at-grade crossing because of the unreliability of access. The cost of this project is estimated at $25 million; it is in the Project Approval and Environmental Design stage.
Kramer Junction in Mojave Desert
State Route 58 (SR-58) is a major east-west transportation corridor in north central San Bernardino County with a high percentage of truck traffic transporting goods in and out of the state. The project scope will include widening and realigning a 13-mile segment of SR-58 centered on Kramer Junction, where SR-58 intersects with US-395, in San Bernardino County. This section of SR-58 is currently a non-standard 2-lane highway between a 4-lane freeway to the west and a 4-lane expressway to the east, and the project would close this gap. This 2-lane segment includes an at-grade signalized intersection at SR-58/US-395 (Kramer Junction), an at-grade crossing of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) railroad west of that intersection, and numerous uncontrolled at-grade driveway and street access points. There is also an at-grade railroad crossing on US-395 north of the SR-58/US-395 intersection that slows traffic and contributes to accidents when traffic backs up during train crossings.
By expanding SR-58, it would be closer to becoming a continuous expressway between the Kern/San Bernardino county lines and Interstate 15. Caltrans is leading this project, which will cost $119 million.
Needles Highway
Needles Highway is primarily a two-lane rural highway that is the only road that runs north and south between the City of Needles, Laughlin, Nevada, and Bullhead City, AZ. It is also the linkage between Interstate 40 and the Fort Mojave Indian Reservation. The project area covers 19.5 miles between Interstate 40 and the California/Nevada state line. Due to safety concerns and the inadequacy of the current highway, SANBAG and the County of San Bernardino are proposing to realign and widen the highway through this region. Most of the area surrounding the roadway does not meet current San Bernardino County design standards for horizontal and vertical curves; such non-standard design features normally lead to an increase in accident rates. In many locations, normally dry streambeds cross the roadway at grade and can make the roadway impassible during storm events and flash floods. Using traffic counts from 2007, the two-lane roadway carries approximately 6,000 vehicles per day, including commercial trucks. The County of San Bernardino is the lead agency on this project.
Numerous other High Desert transportation projects are in the planning and/or environmental study phase. For the latest information on current projects, go to: www.sanbag.ca.gov.
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