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History of the AV Freeway

A Page of History

I found a copy of a speech delivered by California Division of Highways Edward T. Telford at a New Business Outlook luncheon in Lancaster in August 1962. The copy was discovered in my Mother Marion Deaver's files.

Telford explained that in 1962 there were two state highways in the Antelope Valley and included U.S. Route 6 and State Route 138.

At that time U.S. 6 ran from Los Angeles through Mint Canyon, Palmdale and Lancaster, to and beyond the Kern County Line. S.R. 138 ran from the Ridge Route at Gorman via Avenue D, to Sierra Highway through Pear Blossom to San Bernardino.

Progress was being made on the Antelope Valley Freeway that later replaced Sierra Highway as the new state route. The first portion of the new freeway was completed in October 1962 and included new freeway of about 10-miles between Sand Canyon Road and Escondido Canyon Road. Construction for that was projected to cost $7.4 million, (1962 dollars).

The next project would be completed and opened along with the first freeway section. That project allowed alignment to both ends of the freeway. The new alignment also included the construction of 10 bridges.

Right-of-way for the entire freeway from U.S. 99, the Golden State Freeway and the Kern County Line was to cost $6.9 million to acquire 426 parcels.

Telford noted that most property owners in the Antelope Valley were cooperative about selling their land, believing the freeway would increase values on their remaining properties.

The timetable for the entire 54.6-miles of the Antelope Valley Freeway was adopted well into the future. The Antelope Valley Freeway had to be engineered to allow it to cross over the open channel aqueduct at a point just south of the Palmdale Reservoir, near Avenue T.

Another interesting sight that came from the freeway construction was that a cut through a hill south of Avenue S revealed a great look at the San Andreas Fault. Many a school bus full of children bound for a field trip to Los Angeles has pulled over for a quick geography lesson, adjacent to the fault line exposed through freeway construction.

The freeway was constructed in sections with the final section being from Avenue K to the Kern County line. Eventually the freeway section from the Kern County line to just south of Mojave was added.

When I was a little girl I remember driving to Lancaster on the two-lane Highway 6, which included a railroad crossing as we left town. Waiting for an eastbound train was no fun when it was 100 degrees outside.

Same thing applied when going to Bakersfield on the two-lane 466. Slow-going trucks and not many places to pass. That freeway and later the Antelope Freeway were wonderful and cut the stress and heat factor down considerably. However we still long for a truck climbing lane on Eastbound 58 to be funded in the future to eliminate the slow trucks in the afternoons. Don't give up – our own City Councilman Phil Smith currently serves as our representative on KERNCOG, the organization that determines how transportation funds are distributed in Kern County.

Smith is currently working on his candidate paperwork to seek re-election to the council for four more years. He has proved to be a valuable asset if only because of KERNCOG and the funds he has fought for and won in East Kern.

Next time you drive the freeways in East Kern, remember, it used to be much harder and slower to drive around here!