The Point: Lanes set to open this spring; project remains below budget

The new 15 Express Lanes in Riverside County will be ready for commuters by spring 2021. RCTC and its construction and tolling contractors are placing the finishing touches on the lanes to ensure a safe, reliable drive for future customers. At the same time, the project remains under budget, with a major portion of those fund savings being applied to a new project on I-15 south of the 15 Express Lanes.

Testing 1, 2, 3

Since August, team members have been testing components of the tolling system to make sure the new express lanes open smoothly this spring. The lanes will feature “dynamic tolling,” which adjusts tolls to real-time changes in traffic conditions to help traffic flow smoothly. This type of tolling differs from the variable pricing system used on the 91 Express Lanes, in which tolls are adjusted every 90 days to reflect quarterly traffic patterns. RCTC is conducting ongoing tests of the new 15 Express Lanes to make sure the tolling infrastructure, pricing signs, and account charges all operate correctly before the lanes open to customers. The new Riverside Express Customer Service Center also is nearing completion and staff will undergo extensive training prior to opening.

Drainage and Safety

In addition to testing, crews are focusing on other final project work, including drainage improvements before the rainy season. Last winter, the construction team noted sections of roadway where water ponding could occur. The drainage improvements will involve replacing sections of pavement between the 91 and Cantu Galleano Ranch Road over the coming months and will involve occasional nighttime closures of the left lane of I-15 in both directions. You can receive construction updates by signing up here.

During the ongoing construction and toll system testing, please do not drive in the new express lanes until they open in the spring.

Remember that for your safety and the safety of our crews, “Don’t Go There: Crews Still at Work.” Check out this reminder video.

Safety has remained an important part of the 15 Express Lanes Project. Crews and team members take part in frequent briefings related to construction activities and received training related to COVID-19 earlier this year. Throughout the pandemic, the project has remained on track and has employed more than 3,000 people, helping to aid in Riverside County’s economic recovery.

New Lane Between Cajalco and Weirick

Thanks to efficient project management, RCTC allocated $25 million of unspent budget from this project to the new 15 Corridor Operations Project or 15 COP earlier this month. This funding will allow a new non-tolled lane to be added to southbound I-15 between Cajalco Road and Weirick Road, where the roadway will drop from five lanes to three lanes, after the 15 Express Lanes open. The new southbound lane will help provide traffic relief in this area. The project is more complex than it may seem. Adding the new lane requires the widening of the two I-15 bridges over the Bedford Canyon Wash. Engineering and environmental studies for this project are starting now. Construction should begin in 2023 and be complete by 2024.

15/91 Express Lanes Connector

In conjunction with the opening of the 15 Express Lanes, construction will start in spring 2021 for the 15/91 Express Lanes Connector. The connector will link the eastbound 91 Express Lanes directly to the northbound 15 Express Lanes and the southbound 15 Express Lanes to the westbound 91 Express Lanes. Engineers have remained hard at work on this project behind the scenes during the pandemic. The project remains on track to meet the deadline for completion that is connected to the $180 million in state funding secured for the project. The connector will provide about 2,300 jobs and is scheduled to open in 2023. Learn more here.