By Jane Dreher, Public Officer
San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) is the Council of Governments and transportation 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 in 2004 to extend from 2010-2040.
SANBAG considers the transportation needs of the entire county, with focused attention provided by specialized committees, one of which is the Mountain Desert Committee. Following is a summary of some of the projects being planned for the High Desert.
La Mesa/Nisqualli Road Interchange
After decades of development, officials from the City of Victorville, County of San Bernardino, SANBAG, and Caltrans kicked off the construction of the new Interstate 15 – La Mesa/Nisqualli Interchange with a bang in front of a crowd of nearly 200.
The Interstate 15 – La Mesa/Nisqualli Interchange will provide a new east/west cross-over point for local traffic, as well as a freeway access alternative to Bear Valley road to the south and Palmdale Road to the north. This significant addition to the Victorville transportation infrastructure will ultimately ease congestion, improve local circulation, and enhance overall safety in and around Interstate 15 in that area.
The contractor began work on February 13, 2012. Since then, significant progress has been made on the Oro Grande Wash; Mariposa Road has been realigned to allow for construction of the eastern bridge abutment; and utilities (both private and public) have been relocated to make room for the new interchange configuration. Information updates about the project are available on the SANBAG website (www.sanbag.ca.gov) and ongoing outreach to the community of Victorville will continue throughout the construction period. Individuals interested in getting email alerts about the project, which will include schedule changes, traffic handling, and detour plans can sign up from the project page on the web.
(Maps below) These two aerial perspectives show the complexity of the I-15/La Mesa-Nisqualli Interchange. Adjacent access roads on both sides of the freeway will be moved out away from the freeway ramps to disperse traffic and provide greater safety.
High Desert Corridor
The High Desert Corridor (HDC) is a proposed new 63-mile east-west freight and vehicle expressway. The 50 miles from Palmdale to Victorville is a proposed Public-Private Partnership (P3) that would also connect regional rail systems linking Los Angeles County to San Bernardino County and beyond. The corridor bypasses much of the L.A. basin, speeding and diverting freight traffic from the ports and stimulating export business expansion. The HDC will address traffic safety and support the growing need to move goods through Southern California. The HDC Joint Powers Authority (JPA) is a partnership among both counties, LA Metro, SANBAG, and all cities along the route.
The High Desert Corridor (HDC) project planning involves the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) in coordination with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro), the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority, and other partner agencies, including the City of Victorville, the Town of Apple Valley, San Bernardino County, Caltrans District 8, and SANBAG. In 2010, Caltrans took over as lead agency from the City of Victorville.
The HDC east-west freeway/expressway is likely to be a toll facility and may also accommodate rail, between State Route 14 in Los Angeles County and State Route 18 in San Bernardino County. The High Desert Corridor was identified as the E-220 and designated as a High Priority Corridor on the National Highway System. The project is proposed as a means of improving mobility and access for people and goods in the rapidly growing Antelope, Apple, and Victor Valley areas of Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties.
Click on this link for more High Desert Corridor information: http://www.metro.net/projects/high-desert-corridor/
High Desert Corridor Project Alternatives Map:
There are several alternative routes still being considered, as indicated below by the various shades.
I-15/I-215 Devore Junction Goods Movement Improvement Project
Environmental Document Approved
The Environmental Document for the Devore project was approved on February 29, 2012, thus allowing the project to move forward with discussions about acquisition of property. Design Alternative 3A was identified in the approved documents as the selected design which best meets the needs and purpose of the project and is supported by the community of Devore. The next steps on the project include: contacting affected tenants, as well as property owners; select a Design-Builder in Fall 2012; begin Design at the end of 2012; conduct a public meeting prior to construction; and commence construction activity in early 2013. This is a Design-Build project, whereby design and construction will be done simultaneously by the same contractor.
In July 2010, the California Transportation Commission (CTC) selected the I-15/I-215 Devore Junction Goods Movement Improvement Project as one of 10 road construction projects statewide that Caltrans can construct using the streamlined project delivery method design-build. This can save time and allows for adaptations throughout the construction process.
The I-15/I-215 Devore Junction is the worst grade-related trucking bottleneck on I-15 in San Bernardino County. Originally constructed in 1969, the junction currently handles an average of 160,000 vehicles a day, including about 21,000 heavy trucks.
This project will benefit freight traffic, recreational travelers, and High Desert commuters. It is anticipated that an improved Devore Junction will spur economic growth and improve the quality of life for all Southern California motorists traveling to the High Desert, Las Vegas, and beyond.
This project will improve traffic flow at the I-15/I-215 Devore Junction and includes reconnecting the historic Route 66 that currently dead-ends on both sides of the junction. The project’s total cost estimate of $324 million for the locally-preferred alternative includes 15 bridges, roadbed widening on two interstates, improvements to local arterials, environmental mitigation, and major drainage improvement.
Yucca Loma Bridge and the Yucca Loma Corridor
The Town of Apple Valley has hired a construction management firm and construction is expected to begin in late summer 2012 on the Yucca Loma Bridge project over the Mojave River. The Yucca Loma Bridge will connect Yucca Loma Road on the Apple Valley side with Yates Road on the Victorville side. The new roadway and bridge will carry vehicles, bicyclists, and pedestrians. It will also intersect the City of Victorville’s proposed Riverwalk bicycle/pedestrian project, providing an alternative means of transportation along the river towards Bear Valley Road and Victor Valley College.
Apple Valley is the lead agency on the bridge project but is also working with the City of Victorville and the County of San Bernardino to complete the Yucca Loma Corridor to connect the bridge with Hesperia Road and the planned I-15/La Mesa-Nisqualli Interchange. 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, all of which will provide easy access to Interstate 15 using the new interchange at La Mesa/Nisqualli Road.
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 over the Mojave River and connect the urban/commercial cores of Victorville and Apple Valley.
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 for full freeway access, and construction of a new overcrossing structure at the I-15 freeway to provide east/west connections. The project will also realign the frontage roads—Caliente Road and Mariposa Road—on either side of the freeway. Construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2012 with SANBAG as the lead agency.
SANBAG is working with CALTRANS on the design for the widening project. The first phases of the project to be widened will be north of SR18. This project will widen US-395 from Interstate 15 through Desert Flower Road in Adelanto, from two to four lanes, with left-turn pockets and standard shoulders. This project will also widen or replace the structure over the California Aqueduct. The environmental document was completed in December 2009 and is in the design phase. The 12.5 miles of the project will be constructed in nine phases as funding is identified. Construction is anticipated to begin in 2013-2014.
Victor Valley Transit Authority
The Victor Valley Transit Authority (VVTA) is one of six transit agencies that SANBAG supports countywide and provides local bus service for the communities of Adelanto, Apple Valley, Hesperia, Victorville, and unincorporated areas of the Victor Valley The VVTA has completed construction of its new Victor Valley Transit Facility in Victorville. The new transit facility includes a 27,000 square feet administration and operations building, a 31,000 square feet bus maintenance building, a bus parking lot to accommodate 120 buses and paratransit vehicles, 230 parking spaces for employees, visitors and service vehicles, a 13,000 square feet bus wash structure and fueling station, and a photovoltaic panel covered bus shade structure. The facility was designed and constructed to achieve the highest feasible rating as established under the standards of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (“LEED”).
VVTA had a dedication ceremony for the new transit facility on Friday, April 20, 2012 at 11:00 am, following the Mountain Desert Committee Meeting at this location. The public was invited.
Lenwood Grade Separation, Barstow
The City of Barstow initiated this project in response to proposed commercial and industrial development in the area. Currently, Lenwood Road has two lanes of traffic in each direction. Lenwood Road presently carries approximately 4,200 vehicles per day, many of which are trucks. Lenwood Road serves commercial, light industrial, and residential developments in the vicinity of the BNSF grade crossing.
Lenwood Road serves as a major access route from local residents and businesses to Interstate 15. Increasing vehicular traffic due to regional population growth and rising train traffic from the ports have increased the congestion, which is causing increased delays at the existing at-grade crossing. These delays affect the traveling public, potentially hinder access by emergency vehicles, and increase air pollution by vehicle emissions when vehicles are stopped and idling while waiting for the trains at crossings. The high train traffic volumes affect the mobility, accessibility, and reliability of emergency service providers requiring access between areas on either side of the tracks.
The primary project objective is to improve operation and safety by ensuring prompt emergency response time to businesses and residents while eliminating the hazards and inefficiencies of trains passing through the flow of vehicular traffic. Air quality will be improved through elimination of vehicles idling during gate downtimes.
It is anticipated that construction will begin in late 2012.