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Freeway Project, Previously Named as a 'Boondoggle,' Defeated by Environmental Lawsuit

What could have been the first new freeway for Los Angeles County in decades might now only mark the end of an era.
October 8, 2019, 10am PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Caltrans Freeway Planning
High Desert Corridor

"A recent court settlement spells the end for the planned High Desert Corridor Freeway," reports Joe Linton from Southern California.

The High Desert Corridor would have been an $8 billion, 63-mile freeway spanning two counties—Los Angeles and San Bernardino. "In 2016, Caltrans certified the project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR). The plan was for a High Desert 'multi-purpose corridor' featuring an 8-10 lane freeway, plus bike path, solar panels, and high-speed rail," according to Linton. The project was also lined up for nearly $2 billion in funding from Measure M, the L.A. County transportation sales tax approved by voters in 2016.

As explained by Linton, the project's EIR provoked a lawsuit from environmental groups, challenging the project on terms set by both state and federal environmental regulations. A judge sided with the plaintiffs, finding that the EIR was insufficient in measuring biological and greenhouse gas impacts. Instead of drafting a supplemental EIR, Caltrans has decided to shelve the project, reports Linton.

Frontier Group and U.S. PIRG earlier this year named the project as one of the nation's worst highway boondoggles, and now that the project is dead, the Los Angeles Times Editorial Board has taken a firm stance in opposition to the idea. The editorial raises one salient question that continues to plague land use and transportation planners in the state of California: Why is a state committed to reducing emissions and continuing to allow so much development in far-flung, exurban communities? The Trump administration has even begun to exploit the state's hypocrisy.

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Published on Wednesday, October 2, 2019 in Streetsblog LA
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