The Point: Settlement will allow the two key safety projects to advance

The Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) has reached a final settlement with a group of plaintiffs, resolving legal challenges to a pair of transportation projects that are essential to improving traffic safety and efficiency in Riverside County – the State Route 60 Truck Lanes Project and the Mid County Parkway Project.

As part of the settlement, the Commission agreed to contribute funding for project betterments, including soundproofing or improving air filtration of nearby homes.  Other settlement terms include providing $13.2 million in funding to the Western Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority to preserve sensitive habitat near the San Jacinto Wildlife Area and other sensitive lands that are home to endangered species.

“Both of these projects will save lives,” said Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley.  “I’m happy we have found a way to protect the motoring public and our natural environment with this settlement.”

The State Route 60 Truck Lanes Project is a safety project that will add an eastbound truck-climbing lane and a westbound truck-descending lane on State Route 60 in the “Badlands” area of unincorporated Riverside County between Gilman Springs Road and just west of Jack Rabbit Trail. The project will also upgrade freeway shoulders to standard widths. This stretch of State Route 60 is hampered by traffic collisions resulting in delays, injuries, and fatalities. Environmental review of the vital safety project was completed in 2016 and was promptly challenged in state court by the Center for Biological Diversity, Sierra Club, San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society, Friends of the Northern San Jacinto Valley, and Residents for a Livable Moreno Valley.

The Mid County Parkway Project is an east-west, 16-mile transportation corridor linking Perris and San Jacinto between Interstate 215 and State Route 79.

RCTC approved an Environmental Impact Report for the project in 2016 and was challenged in state and federal court by the same group of plaintiffs.

RCTC’s environmental review has been upheld by both the state and federal courts. However, reaching a settlement now heads off pending appeals and allows work to move forward on both projects, providing a safer and more efficient transportation system in Riverside County.

Additional terms of the settlement will include improvements to parkland in Perris, the addition of Park and Ride lots and the installation of solar panels at RCTC Metrolink stations in the nearby area.

“This is additional validation of RCTC’s role in protecting the quality of life in Riverside County,” said RCTC Chairman Dana Reed, an Indian Wells City Councilman.  “Progress and environmental protection can take place at the same time, and it’s never more important when lives are on the line; this will make traveling much safer.”

For more information about the State Route 60 Truck Lanes Project and the Mid County Parkway Project, please click here.

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