It seems like there is always another plan in the pipeline. Which is good. Plans are certainly great, especially when we’re spending money on projects that have broad implications for now and the future. In light of that, there are several things in the works that can still take YOUR input to help improve them. Here go two things to look at over the next few weeks and leave your thoughts or concerns.
Interregional Transportation Strategic Plan
Caltrans is working on updating their Interregional Transportation Strategic Plan (ITSP) for 2015 and are seeking input on areas to focus the Department’s energies. The ITSP is what they use to decide how to prioritize corridors and make improvements to vital connections across the state. Especially to remote areas, some of which are certainly present here in the IE. They hosted some workshops already, but you can still send them comments and they also have a survey. Nonetheless, your input is important, so make sure they get it!
High Desert Corridor
Along that same line of thought are the plans for the High Desert Corridor. Streetsblog LA has kept tabs on the project as it has poked along over the last few years. Earlier this year, the HDC DEIR/DEIS made a splash when it was released…because of the cover art. The project would create a (new) thoroughfare across the, you guessed it, High Desert. The current plans are for a controlled access design (either tollway or freeway) from SR-14 in the west to I-15 in the east, then an expressway down to Apple Valley. The intent is to improve SR-18 and SR-138 safety and travel efficiency. If the HDC is built, Caltrans is proposing to revert those two routes back to local control in their respective communities. Options also include a possible rail line that would connect with CA High Speed Rail in Palmdale and continue on to Las Vegas. It would be great for it to also include regular commuter rail as it could finally bring daily train service to the Victorville area. Additionally, there are plans to include solar installations to power the facilities.
Most promising of all, there is a plan to include a parallel Class I facility for non-motorized travel along the entire length of the Corridor. But as great as that sounds, the DEIR shows that Caltrans is still fundamentally focused on moving cars and just tacking the non-motorized portion on to get (Jerry) Brownie points. Specifically, the DEIR makes comments on the problems of 8′ wide paths, which is the minimum width allowed in the HDM for a Class I. However, considering the importance of the corridor and lack of alternatives, the minimum width should be at least double that to allow for a good experience to all users and of course for adequate access by maintenance equipment. The HDC has the opportunity to really improve active transportation options for High Desert residents, but they need guidance to make sure that it happens.
That’s where you come in. The Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement is available for just over a week more on the Caltrans District 7 website. If you feel like some light reading [PDF] after your turkey, thumb through the volumes then submit your comments. Additionally, LA METRO has developed an interactive map where you can leave comments. Take full advantage of those opportunities to call for Caltrans/METRO/SANBAG to build the best corridor possible for all users, not just another highway.
If you know of any other plans in the works, especially over the holiday season, leave a reply in the comments with info about it! Some agencies like to sneak their stuff out at this time of year when everyone is taking vacation and won’t notice it until too late. Don’t let that happen to us this year.