A look at Newberry Springs

(4/16/13) – What does the future hold for this agricultural town?

The Transit Coalition continues to explore ways to improve multi-modal connections between the Inland Empire and points north of the Cajon Pass. There are numerous services that link Southern California to destinations like Las Vegas, Laughlin, and the Grand Canyon National Park, but what about the small towns in between?

Twenty miles east of the City of Barstow lies the town of Newberry Springs along Interstate 40, a robust agricultural, ranching and farming center made possible by the irrigation from the Mojave Aquifer. The region also benefits from local leisure-goers, snowbirds, some tourists utilizing the man-made lakes. Numerous live/work agricultural ranches can be found throughout this region which contributes toward a better balanced job-to-housing ratio.

The town’s rural demographics make fixed-route public transit a difficult endeavor for now, but what can be done to improve transit mobility?

What could a small centralized town center bring to Newberry Springs?

A small centralized downtown district for the ranchers and a community farmer’s market targeted toward travellers and truck drivers could make a bus route extension from Barstow a feasible option. Has the County of San Bernardino worked with the local residents on building up the agricultural marketplace? Has the state worked on making such trade more business-friendly and feasible?

Here's some more benefits of a downtown district: A private sector intercity bus operator like Greyhound could one day be inclined to stop a few of its through-buses in Newberry Springs. How about a future Class One BNSF-operated train west into Los Angeles, or east to Flagstaff? Bridle paths adjacent to major through-fares, complete streets, and a much-needed repaving of the Highway 66 frontage road east toward Ludlow would be possible from the added tax revenue. But in this current business climate, such public amenities and economic upgrades are not possible.


  1. Obviously, the author has little knowledge of Newberry Springs. The principle farming is alfalfa; something that is hard to sell at a tourist stand. Secondary is pistachios - hard to crack while driving.

    As for Greyhound, there are no people transports anymore between Barstow and Needles. By bus, one has to detour via Las Vegas (shuttle van between Vegas and Needles).

    The region does not benefit from the few man made lakes. One or two might hold a ski event occasionally; but little countable revenue is realized outside of the gates.

    Additional bridle paths? There isn't any! It's open desert.

    The absurdity is reached at proposing the repaving of Hwy 66 to Ludlow with all the added tax revenue the above ideas would bring.

    The "numerous live/work ranches" must be in reference to the pot growers.

    If this article is an example of the coalition's think tank, then it is truly in deep trouble.

    1. Our organization passed through Newberry Springs and conducted a field study on how the transportation infrastructure can be improved combined with the local economy without inducing urban sprawl or traffic congestion since registered unemployment is 12%. We spoke with an individual familiar with the area.

      The conceptual idea of having a small centralized town center for the ranchers and a community farmer's market along National Trails Highway would benefit the region's local economy which in turn would contribute to a better transportation system. Should such a community-oriented downtown district perform well and attract business down the road, marketplace transportation providers like Greyhound could be inclined to stop there, but obviously the town is currently not in a state for that. The same holds true for through bridlepaths and complete streets.

      While alfalfa will likely not be sold directly to passing travellers, locally grown pistachios and apricots would likely perform well. Sell them at the local gas station for starters. Newberry Springs is certainly no Las Vegas or Disneyland, but leisure goers, snowbirds, and tourists utilizing the man-made lakes is a prime market item thanks to the Mojave Aquifer.

      The historic Highway 66 corridor is gaining interest in the marketplace and investors have already explored it. We're certainly not in a state to repave the highway now, but should Newberry Springs, Ludlow and the village east on Highway 66 experience revitalization combined with growth in the logistics sector, the frontage road should be repaved. It is now in an unacceptable state of disrepair east of Newberry Springs.

  2. Rather than your coalition driving through communities and telling them what they can (should) do, it might be better to invite members of the communities into active roles within your organization so that the coalition could acquire a wider perspective.

    "Registered unemployment" (whatever that means) of 12% is far too low; double it and you might start to get close to reality.

    All of the lakes in Newberry Springs are private. They cost a great deal of money to maintain. Owners do not want tourists coming onto their properties, trashing them, and then leaving broken glass and filing lawsuits if in any way injured.

    There is limited rural bus service for residents linking Barstow; however, there is no pass-thru passenger service of any carrier between Barstow and Needles. So, one cannot get a non-existent bus service to stop in Newberry.

    Newberry Springs does however need rural transit relief from BNSF tieing up the main rail crossing. This is a critical community safety issue.

    You are correct that the Mother Road east of Newberry Springs is in an unacceptable state of disrepair; especially with tourists visiting the Mojave National Preserve. The road is a national treasure that is being neglected in favor of the federal administration building roads elsewhere in the world.

    1. A part of inviting members to participate includes planting some initial ideas for the good of the community to stir up discussion. For instance, what do the state and feds need to do to incline BNSF to invest in separated grade crossings? That's something we support. We've already collected some local input.

      We put "registered unemployment" because those individuals (12%) are receiving benefits according to the Census Bureau; that does not count the unemployed not receiving. Again, what can be done to put these people to work?

      We'll give you the last word.


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