I-11 seems to have its own PR agency

Apr 17, 2018 3:00 AM

You may have been hearing quite a bit lately about Interstate 11, the now-under-construction roadway that will eventually connect Las Vegas and Phoenix.

Were you aware Las Vegas and Phoenix are the only two cities in the nation with populations of more than one million that are not linked by an interstate? The official Interstate 11 (I-11) website notes that, when complete, it will enhance travel and commerce between Arizona and Nevada then eventually to Canada and Mexico.

The site boasts I-11 will “relieve congestion and improve safety for interstate travelers while alleviating bottlenecks and improving mobility for Boulder City residents as you commute, shop and visit family and friends.”

I never heard of an interstate having its own public relations agency, but the website, obviously conceived by those who have a need to explain how they are spending your gasoline tax dollars, also boasts I-11 construction creates thousands of jobs in our Southern Nevada community and provides a welcome boost to our economy.

When you read this you might be asking if these funds might be better spent improving the trip from Las Vegas to California and back, instead. I’m wondering just that because, like you, I’ve made the drive to California 75 to 100 times more often than the drive to Phoenix.

Now comes word of a long discussed project to make the trip from one of the fastest growing areas of Los Angeles County to Las Vegas a lot faster and less stressful than in the past. Believe it or not, were talking about Lancaster and Palmdale. Those two cities are the focal point of a proposed project called the “High Desert Corridor.”

It would be an eight-lane roadway stretching 63 miles from east to west connecting Lancaster and Palmdale in far northern LA County to Victorville and Apple Valley in San Bernardino County. Officially, the 63-mile stretch connects California State Route 14 (SR-14) in Los Angeles County and SR-18 in San Bernardino County.

The High Desert Corridor is likely to funnel more people commerce to Las Vegas than Arizona ever will. That will especially be the case if a high-speed train connecting Victorville to Las Vegas ever becomes a reality.

It’s not a new idea to improve the roadway from Lancaster and Palmdale to Victorville and my research shows it was first proposed in the 1970’s. Forty plus years later, if built, it would be the first new freeway in LA County since I-105 was completed in 1993.

The proposed road is not without controversy because many Lancaster/Palmdale residents would rather see an easing of their north/south commute from their affordable housing in the area to jobs closer to metro-Los Angeles rather than an east/west route to Victorville that would make it easier to reach Las Vegas for a weekend getaway.

When it comes down to anything new in California, litigation usually ensures delays, and there’s no exception for the High Desert Corridor because a group called Climate Resolve filed a lawsuit in 2016 charging the roadway project’s environmental impact report is flawed and there’s more potential harm to resident health, wildlife traffic, and noise than indicated by the initial study.

The case may go to court in the fall.

Seems I-11 is much further along than the High Desert Corridor. However, as one far more interested in an easier way to get to California than Arizona, I hope the Corridor gets built. I’d use it for easier trips to Northern California Wine Country and San Francisco as destinations and I’d use it for a “bucket list” tour of Edwards Air Force Base near Lancaster and Palmdale.

I’ve also driven through that northern part of LA County returning from Santa Monica to avoid problems getting out of downtown LA and delays on I-15 at Cajon Pass. Although it takes a little longer it can be a more visually interesting trip.

Here’s hoping a high-speed train from Victorville to Las Vegas and a new roadway from Lancaster/Palmdale to Victorville and the subsequent economic benefits for Southern Nevada are in our future.