Palmdale-Victorville CA High Desert Corridor likely tollroad, possible concession - RFP

December 6, 2007
By Peter Samuel

There's a potential east-west tollroad of 80km (50 miles) between Palmdale and Victorville in the high desert country just over the mountains north of Los Angeles. A Request for Proposals (RFP) has been issued by the High Desert Corridor Joint Powers Authority, an agency of San Bernardino and Los Angeles Counties within whose jurisdiction the proposed corridor lies. The authority was formed about a year ago to develop the highway.

Mazin Kasey, assistant director of planning in San Bernardino County is chairman of the JPA. He says the authority is looking for a company or companies which will take the project through planning, permitting, financing, project management, design and construction, "the whole thing."

And they want it all done "in a very timely fashion," Kasey says. There are several efforts at each end of the project to use local funds and the route was identified as a Los Angeles-Las Vegas High Priority Corridor of the National Highway System under SAFETEA-LU so it should be eligible for the small federal grants that are sometimes worked in Washington DC. But there is no identified public funding for the bulk of the project, Kasey says, though they hope the responders will work out ways to garner what is available.

It looks to us as though the project will rely very heavily, if not entirely on private financing. As well as tolls there might be room for using land development rights to finance the road.

Open to proposals and ideas

The authority has taken no decision in favor or against toll financing, or how any tolling would be structured, whether public, private concession, or something else.

"We are looking for proposals. We are open to ideas," Kasey told us.

The project will link Palmdale on CA14 to Victorville on I-15. It is pretty empty country in between though suburbs are springing up on the edges. There are airfields, otherwise it is mostly wide open desert.

Freight route

Kasey says the project is "mostly a freight route" - trucks.

Plus people driving from anywhere west of downtown Los Angeles to Las Vegas could find it an attractive alternative to go up the CA14 then take the HDC over to I-15 to avoid the heavily trafficked freeways like the CA60, the I-10 and the I-210.

It is also seen as:

- a link between two regional airports and Barstow rail yards
- potential for foreign trade zone
- an alternative route in emergencies to the Los Angeles valley
- safer and quicker than CA138/CA18
- serve anticipated development

The existing roads in the area are CA138 and CA18 - both are mostly 2 lane state roads and suitable for 50mph (80km/hr) travel. Wherever there are settlements they are multipurpose roads with frontage properties. Kasey stresses these are on a different route. By our measurement most of the HDC route is 7km to 10km (4 to 6 miles) to the north of these existing roads.

The HDC would be a 2+2 lane expressway ("freeway" in Californian jargon) designed to take heavy trucks and other longdistance traffic safely at high speeds. The country is quite flat and there are no major watercourses so construction costs should be low.

There are no traffic studies as to the potential of the road, just traffic counts and the county traffic models available.

The RFP is formally worded as for engineering consultants to make a "Strategy Development Proposal." The RFP states that the proposers must come up with proposals to finance the project. They "shall research public and private funding or some combination thereof (including toll systems development and toll revenue estimates), identify potential outside private revenue sources for project development and eventual construction and present their financing, proposed budget for each (s)tep..."

Concession powers?

We asked Kasey if the Authority has the power to enter into a toll concession. He said: "I think so." But this too, it seems to us, has to be addressed by the proposers.

The schedule is:

Issue Request for Proposals December 7, 2007

Pre-Proposal Meeting February 11, 2008

Proposals Due March 14, 2008

PTAC Shortlist created and Notification to Consultants April 30, 2008

Selection Committee interviews and ranking of finalists June 30, 2008

PTAC review of selection committee recommendations July 7 2008

JPA Board Selection of Consultant and authorize negotiation July 17, 2008

Contract negotiation completed August 22, 2008

JPA Board approval September 4, 2008

Notice to Proceed September 11, 2008

For RFP see http://co.san-bernardino.ca.us/trans/high_desert_corridor.html

Traffic counts are here: http://traffic-counts.dot.ca.gov/2006all/r134161i.htm

Here is larger version of the map above.

TOLLROADSnews 2007-12-06


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