Toll rates: fear and loathing in the Mojave Desert

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 1/18/2012

Travelers from Los Angeles County to Las Vegas may soon be getting a long-promised new roadway along a 63-mile stretch in the high desert, but truckers are concerned about the possibility of hefty toll rates. Public meetings about the High Desert Corridor begin next week.

“If they’re banking on truckers paying for this highway with tolls, they had better start talking to the long-haul community,” said Joe Rajkovacz, director of regulatory affairs for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“Long-haul truckers will seek out alternative routes even if it means traveling a few miles more,” he said.

The High Desert Corridor is a proposed 63-mile divided highway from State Route 14 in Los Angeles County and State Route 18 in San Bernardino County in California. The new roadway would serve the Antelope, Victor and Apple Valley areas and provide an alternative to Highway 138/18, also known as the Pearblossom Highway.

The Pearblossom, as many truckers in the region already know, is an old-school two-lane highway that has seen its share of crashes and fatalities through the years. Officials are hoping to lure L.A.-to-Las Vegas traffic to the High Desert Corridor and away from the Pearblossom.

But if the corridor becomes a toll road, which appears in several of the proposals being considered, truckers may simply avoid it and use routes like Highway 58 to cover those east-west miles.

A lot depends on which proposal makes the final cut. OOIDA is urging truckers to attend the public meetings and inform officials about their businesses and how they run the desert.

“One concern to talk about is the ability of trucks to use the alternative routes,” Rajkovacz said. “For many truckers who currently live along or adjacent to Pearblossom Highway, they need to ensure this project does not end up prohibiting them from using the old highway to go home.”

Rajkovacz says OOIDA has members of every mix and match in California. A new tollway won’t benefit the region if the truckers avoid it.

“If the toll is disproportionate to the benefit, most long-haulers won’t use it,” he said.

Public meetings will be conducted in open-house format from 6:30 to 7 p.m. at each location followed by a question period from 7 to 8 p.m.

Meeting dates and locations are as follows:

  • Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2012, at Twin Lakes Community Church, 17213 Lake Los Angeles Ave., Palmdale, CA 93591;
  • Thursday, Jan. 26, 2012, at Larry Chimbole Center, 38350 Sierra Highway, Palmdale, CA 93550;
  • Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2012, Town of Apple Valley Town Council Chambers, 14343 Civic Drive, Victorville, CA 92392 (This meeting will be streamed live on;
  • Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012, at Stater Bros Stadium, Mavericks Conference Room, 1200 Stadium Way, Adelanto, CA 92301.

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