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High Desert Corridor FAQ

FAQ's (December 2012) - Printable version | Preguntas frecuentes (diciembre del 2012)

  1. Why a High Desert Corridor (HDC)?
  2. What are the potential benefits to the surrounding communities?
  3. When will Caltrans select one of the alternatives?
  4. How is the Preferred Alternative (PA) selected?
  5. If one of the “Build” Alternatives are selected, what is the earliest date that construction could commence?
  6. Who is leading the effort/project study?
  7. How will the HDC be funded?
  8. Are Metro and Caltrans looking into the private funding to help offset the cost of this project?
  9. Is funding available now? Will it be available if/when construction is ready to begin?
  10. Why does the environmental study include other transportation modes?
  11. Will there be a high-speed rail (HSR) feeder component to this project?
  12. What type of rail technology will be used?
  13. Will there be an HSR station along the alignment?
  14. Was a monorail system ever considered as part of the rail analysis?
  15. What type of green energy technology will be used?
  16. Will the HDC include a bikeway?
  17. Does the project include toll lanes?
  18. Can local residents receive a toll discount?
  19. Will there be dedicated truck lanes?
  20. Will this lead to increased truck traffic on local roads?
  21. Where will the new overpasses/underpasses be located?
  22. What is an environmental study and how long does it take?
  23. What should I expect in the Draft EIS/EIR?
  24. When will the Draft EIS/EIR be available for review?
  25. How can I comment on the Draft EIS/EIR?
  26. What is included in the Scoping Report?
  27. Will private property need to be purchased for this project? If so, when will property owners be notified?
  28. Will Metro and Caltrans include considerations for environmental protections for wildlife and aquifers rechargeable areas?
  29. Will the Environmental Document identify infectious diseases, such as Valley Fever?
  30. How will Metro and Caltrans address any potential impacts of the HDC on the local roads?
  31. How will light pollution concerns be considered?
  32. Are there any plans on connecting the Victor Valley or HDC community with the San Bernardino Metrolink Station?
  33. How will flooding and stormwater be addressed?
  34. Can the project team make a presentation to my group?

1. Why a High Desert Corridor (HDC)?

The continued growth of the Antelope and Victor Valley areas together with the pressure to move goods efficiently through Southern California and provide access to regional airports has created a need to improve east/west connectivity across the High Desert region. This growth is resulting in inadequate capacity and accessibility along the existing roadways such as the SR-138 and Palmdale Boulevard.

Metro and Caltrans will continue to coordinate with regional and local agencies to ensure the improvements will address both present and future travel demand and mobility needs. [ Top ]

2. What are the potential benefits to the surrounding communities?

For years the communities along the proposed High Desert Corridor have depended on limited east/west travel corridors such as Palmdale Boulevard and SR-138. These travel corridors are undersized, plagued by flooding and experience above average accident rates. The HDC could provide a fully grade-separated facility that is safe and efficient. The HDC may also provide an additional travel option and serve as an economic catalyst for continued and future job growth. In March 2012, Metro designated the HDC as a Strategic Multi-Purpose Corridor which could include:

  • High speed rail that has the potential to provide a link to other regional rail systems and trips between Victorville and Palmdale with connections to Las Vegas and San Francisco.
  • An energy production and transmission component that will explore the latest green energy technology with the goal of creating a sustainable near zero to net-zero energy corridor resulting in minimal impacts to the environment.
  • A proposed bikeway that could provide a safe, comfortable, dedicated route between 100th Street and US-395 and will connect with other local bike networks. [ Top ]

3. When will Caltrans select one of the alternatives?

Throughout the course of the environmental study, alternatives will be refined to minimize impacts and maximize their potential benefits. The draft environmental report (Draft EIS/EIR) is scheduled to be completed and released for public review in Summer 2014. Staff will review public comments and the technical evaluation to recommend a Preferred Alternative (PA) in the final environmental document which is anticipated to be completed in Spring 2015. [ Top ]

4. How is the Preferred Alternative (PA) selected?

The environmental evaluation of the alternatives combined with public input is used to select the PA. Caltrans decision makers will carefully review the potential impacts and benefits of each alternative as well as the cost, funding and public input to make a final decision. [ Top ]

5. If one of the “Build” Alternatives are selected, what is the earliest date that construction could commence?

If funding becomes available for future phases of this project beyond the current environmental study phase, the project development process (including completion of the environmental analysis), engineering and design could prepare the HDC for construction as early as 2016. However, this is the most optimistic timeline assuming all required technical requirements are completed without any delays. Typically, the availability of adequate funding is a key determinant of any potential construction schedule in addition to the completion of all the required technical studies and environmental analyses that are required in an EIS/EIR. [ Top ]

6. Who is leading the effort/project study?

Caltrans is the lead agency for the completion of the environmental study and is the owner/operator of all public freeways in California. Metro is a funding partner and is responsible for transportation improvements in Los Angeles County. Together, Caltrans and Metro have developed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that identifies the roles and responsibilities for the environmental clearance and project approval for the HDC. [ Top ]

7. How will the HDC be funded?

As with most large public infrastructure projects, funding must come from a variety of sources.  In the case of the HDC, the environmental clearance of the project is funded by Measure R, the ½ cent sales tax passed by voters in Los Angeles County in 2008, Measure I, the ½ cent sales tax extended in 2004 in San Bernardino County and State funds.  Funding for the construction of the HDC has not been identified, but state, federal and Public-Private Partnership (P3) opportunities are being explored to determine how best to finance this project.  [ Top ]

8. Are Metro and Caltrans looking into the private funding to help offset the cost of this project?

Yes, Metro Board of Directors approved the HDC as one of six projects for further Public Private Partnership opportunities. The HDC staff will develop a Strategic Assessment and Business Case Development Plan to help identify future project funding. San Bernardino Association of Governments (SANBAG) has also designated the HDC as their number one priority project for Public Private Partnership consideration. Private funding could be generated from a combination of sources, including tolls, and possibly the generation/transmission of green energy. As such the Green Energy Corridor study is being conducted to identify the potential economic benefits that wind, solar and natural gas could provide for the operation and maintenance of the High Desert Corridor. [ Top ]

9. Is funding available now? Will it be available if/when construction is ready to begin?

Funding is only available to complete the environmental study phase at this time. Funding for final design and potential construction of the HDC has not been identified. Policy and decision makers are actively working to identify the appropriate funding needed for the HDC should one of the “Build” Alternatives be selected as the Preferred Alternative (PA) in the Final Environmental Document. In addition, in October 2009, the Los Angeles County Metro Board approved the HDC as one of six projects for further Public Private Partnership opportunities and will develop a Strategic Assessment and Business Case Development Plan for future funding of the project. San Bernardino Association of Governments (SANBAG) has also designated the HDC as their number one priority project for Public Private Partnership consideration. Future phases of the project will only begin once the project funding is in place. [ Top ]

10. Why does the environmental study include other transportation modes?

State and federal environmental laws require us to evaluate a reasonable range of alternatives that would satisfy the project’s purpose and need. One part of the project’s purpose is to improve east-west mobility in the High Desert region. Therefore, the project team is evaluating the feasibility of other modes of transportation that may satisfy that purpose. [ Top ]

11. Will there be a high-speed rail (HSR) feeder component to this project?

A HSR feeder service is included in two of the alternatives being evaluated in the environmental document. In March 2012, the Metro Board of Directors recognized the HDC as a Strategic Multi Purpose Strategic Corridor that could accommodate a highway, an energy production and/or transmission facility and a high speed rail feeder service line. The XpressWest and the California High Speed Rail Authority projects are not part of this study and are currently going through their own project development processes. However, the HDC environmental study will identify feasible alternatives to connect to the Palmdale Transportation Center where the HDC could connect to Metrolink as well as CAHSR and a potential HDC connection to the XpressWest station in Victorville. [ Top ]

12. What type of rail technology will be used?

The HDC project will consider High Speed Rail Technology to connect with the Palmdale Transportation Center in Palmdale and the planned XpressWest in Victorville. The HDC Rail Alternatives Analysis considered the use of diesel powered systems and electric, however, due to various factors including air quality, train speed and connectivity, the analysis concluded that High Speed Rail technology is likely the best suited for the HDC. [ Top ]

13. Will there be an HSR station along the alignment?

It is not considered feasible to have an HSR station in between Palmdale and Victorville due to the relatively short distance and the high train speeds. [ Top ]

14. Was a monorail system ever considered as part of the rail analysis?

No, a monorail is a single track rail system that typically straddle a narrow guideway. The HDC Rail Alternatives Analysis focused on double track technologies as well as systems that could potentially connect to the Palmdale Transportation Center and the planned XpressWest station in Victorville, such as Metrolink, California High Speed Rail and XpressWest. [ Top ]

15. What type of green energy technology will be used?

The environmental document will evaluate the potential for future inclusion of green energy generation and transmission within the HDC corridor.  As part of the technical studies being completed for the environmental analysis, a green energy white paper study was completed that provided cursory analysis of various modes of green energy technologies that may be considered as part of a future HDC development, which has been designated as a multipurpose corridor. [ Top ]

16. Will the HDC include a bikeway?

In an effort to enhance bicycle facilities along the HDC, Metro and Caltrans will include a bikeway component for purposes of further study in the Draft EIS/EIR; approximately from 100th Street to US-395. Coordination amongst various local and regional jurisdictions is underway in an effort to identify local routes for a bikeway facility between the Cities of Palmdale and Victorville. [ Top ]

17. Does the project include toll lanes?

Two of the project alternatives under evaluation in the environmental process consider the use of tolls along the High Desert Corridor. A final decision has not been made on a preferred alternative and tolling options/mechanisms have not yet been decided. [ Top ]

If an alternative with toll lanes is selected, it could be delivered as part of a Public-Private Partnership (P3) funding strategy.  Generally the location of the toll operation would be between 100th St and US 395. This section of roadway can most effectively be tolled because there are limited local road options that trucks and motorists could use to avoid the toll. [ Top ]

18. Can local residents receive a toll discount?

If a tollway/expressway alternative is selected as the Prefered Alternative, Metro could enter into a partnership with a private company to build the HDC. The process of identifying the revenue levels and mechanisms of collecting revenue will be determined at that time. Metro and Caltrans can not make this determination at this phase of the study. [ Top ]

19. Will there be dedicated truck lanes?

At this time, no dedicated truck lanes are being proposed as part of the HDC. However, the HDC could help improve east-west truck movement across the High Desert. [ Top ]

20. Will this lead to increased truck traffic on local roads?

One of the goals of the HDC is to provide a safe and efficient highway for trucks to use between SR-14, through I-15 and to SR-18 that could result in less truck traffic on local roads and improve safety. Any potential traffic impacts of the HDC will be analyzed and documented in the Draft EIS/EIR. [ Top ]

21. Where will the new overpasses/underpasses be located?

There are currently 18 proposed on/off ramps along the HDC (eight in LA county and ten in San Bernardino county). The list of ramps was initially developed in coordination with the project partner agencies and then refined based on the data from the Traffic Model Demand Forecast Study. To see the latest project map with a list of the proposed ramps, please visit Metro’s HDC webpage at www.metro.net/hdc . [ Top ]

22. What is an environmental study and how long does it take?

Federal and state laws require an evaluation of project impacts and identification of mitigation measures. To be eligible to receive both federal and state funds, projects need to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Therefore, a combined Environmental Impact Statement/ Environmental Impact Report (EIS/EIR) will be prepared pursuant to state and federal laws. The HDC environmental study is a lengthy process due to the large project area; it began in late 2010 and the final document is anticipated in Spring 2015. The public is encouraged to participate in the process throughout the development of the environmental study. [ Top ]

23. What should I expect in the Draft EIS/EIR?

The purpose of the environmental studies that are currently underway are to identify the potential impacts of construction and operation of each of the proposed project alternatives and to evaluate measures to avoid, minimize and mitigate the adverse impacts associated with each alternative. The following are examples of some of the topical areas under study in the Draft EIS/EIR:

  • Energy
  • Climate change
  • Historic, archaeological and paleontological impacts
  • Parklands
  • Economic and fiscal impacts
  • Safety and security
  • Operation and construction
  • Traffic and parking
  • Land use and development
  • Displacement and relocations
  • Community and neighborhood impacts
  • Visual and aesthetics
  • Air quality
  • Noise and vibration
  • Ecosystems and biological resources
  • Geotechnical, seismic and hazardous materials
  • Hydrology and water quality
  • Growth inducing impacts
  • Environmental justice
  • Cost and financial analysis

The Draft EIS/EIR will provide you with an opportunity to review and comment on the results of these studies. [ Top ]

24. When will the Draft EIS/EIR be available for review?

The Draft EIS/EIR is expected to be released to the public in Summer 2014. [ Top ]

25. How can I comment on the Draft EIS/EIR?

Once the document is released for community review and response, Caltran and Metro will host a set of public hearings to receive verbal and written comments. Additionally, comments can be submitted by email or postal mail. Currently, the Draft EIS/EIR is scheduled to be released in Summer 2014. [ Top ]

26. What is included in the Scoping Report?

The Scoping Report documents the outreach activities and public input received at the outset of the environmental process. Scoping meetings were conducted with the public and government agencies to identify public and agency concerns and to define the environmental issues and alternatives to be examined in the EIS/EIR. The report includes a project history, comments submitted by the community and participating agencies, and outlines key issues identified for study in the EIS/EIR. [ Top ]

27. Will private property need to be purchased for this project? If so, when will property owners be notified?

At this time, the exact footprint of the HDC has not been determined and Caltrans and Metro are working to identify all parcels that may potentially be impacted. The environmental document (Draft EIS/EIR) will determine where right-of-way needs to be acquired for each of the proposed alternatives. Property owners will be notified of the public release of the Draft EIS/EIR and encouraged to review and provide input. If you are a property owner and are interested in following the project you can contact the project helpline 888.252.7433 or send an email to hdc@metro.net and provide us with your contact information so we can place you on the project database for all notifications and updates. [ Top ]

28. Will Metro and Caltrans include considerations for environmental protections for wildlife and aquifers rechargeable areas?

The technical studies included in the Draft EIS/EIR will provide an analysis of the surrounding environment to ensure that impacts to wildlife are either avoided, minimized or mitigated. These studies analyze wildlife which depend on freedom of movement to survive and will identify the need to maintain linkages to connect two main areas of habitat. In the HDC region, the document will look at the movement of all animals. [ Top ]

29. Will the Environmental Document identify infectious diseases, such as Valley Fever?

When there is a concern regarding an infectious disease, the project team turns to the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) which compiles data on the occurrence of infectious diseases in California, such as Valley Fever.  Public safety is our primary concern.  Should the project move forward into construction, Caltrans and Metro will be coordinating with CDPH to assess any potential exposure risk that may result from the project and to identify appropriate steps to take, as needed, to minimize that risk. [ Top ]

30. How will Metro and Caltrans address any potential impacts of the HDC on the local roads?

The Traffic Analysis Section of the Draft EIS/EIR will identify potential impacts of HDC alternatives to the local roads.  Metro and Caltrans will continue working with the local jurisdictions to determine how best to integrate the proposed HDC project into the existing road network. [ Top ]

31.  How will light pollution concerns be considered?

The HDC Draft EIS/EIR technical studies include an assessment of potential visual impacts from the proposed project alternatives under study and lighting impacts to the environment will be evaluated.   Potential measures to avoid, minimize, and mitigate any light pollution from the HDC will be considered through the environmental study process.  [ Top ]

32. Are there any plans on connecting the Victor Valley or HDC community with the San Bernardino Metrolink Station?

The HDC project is intended to improve east-west connectivity within the high desert area, between Palmdale and Victorville/Apple Valley. A connection to the San Bernardino Metrolink station is therefore outside the scope of this project. Any future rail connection between Victorville and San Bernardino would need to be proposed, evaluated and developed independently from the HDC Study that is currently underway. [ Top ]

33. How will flooding and stormwater be addressed?

Stormwater will be managed through the use of culverts (in natural drainages) and detention basins.  The project hydrology experts have analyzed the potential for stormwater runoff and flooding and will design the culverts and basins to provide sufficient capacity to avoid flooding during a 100 year storm event (which is the current design standard). [ Top ]

34. Can the project team make a presentation to my group?

Yes, Caltrans, Metro and the consultant team are available to make an HDC presentation to your group. If you are interested in having a presentation, call the project helpline at 888.252.7433 or send an email request to hdc@metro.net. [ Top ]

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