The Point: Restriping 91 Express Lanes entry/exit points to reduce congestion is complete, an additional westbound lane at Green River Rd. is moving forward, and Green River Rd. ramp meter will remain

Keeping its promise to commuters, the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) recently made improvements to State Route 91 and Interstate 15 to improve the entrance and exit points to the 91 Express Lanes.  RCTC is continuing to develop additional improvements.

In September, the northbound I-15 entrance lane to the 91 Express Lanes was extended one mile south so cars entering the express lanes can move from the general purpose lanes sooner and help overall traffic flow on I-15.  In November, RCTC restriped the transition point between the Riverside County and Orange County segments of the 91 Express Lanes to provide a smoother transition for motorists entering and exiting the express lanes.  RCTC Commissioners authorized these improvements after thoroughly evaluating traffic data and listening to public suggestions.

RCTC also released an update of work it has aggressively pursued since spring 2018 to develop environmental and technical analyses to add an additional lane on westbound 91 between Green River Road and the 241.  This additional westbound lane has been known as “Option 4M” or the “91 Corridor Operations Project” (91 COP).  At its May 9 meeting, the Commission voted to accelerate the 91 COP by authorizing the expenditure of nearly $5 million in surplus toll revenue to begin environmental and design work, amend existing contracts, and procure estimates of construction costs and toll revenue impacts. Results of this work are as follows:

91 Express Lanes restriping graphic
  • The estimated construction cost is $36.1 million ($43 million total).
  • The 91 Express Lanes in Riverside County will experience an estimated net loss of $165.5 million in toll revenue between 2022 and 2035 due to the 91 COP.
  • Design and environmental work are ongoing concurrently and can be complete by late 2019.
  • Advertising for construction could occur in early 2020.
  • The soonest the 91 COP can be open to motorists is late 2021.

Today, the Commission voted to continue progress on the 91 COP and to consider this project for a limited pool of funding available for several long-deferred projects in Riverside County. This action followed similar action taken on November 26 by RCTC’s Western Riverside County Programs & Projects Committee.

Additionally, RCTC worked with Caltrans and the City of Corona this summer and fall to study the impact of turning off the on-ramp meter at the westbound 91 Green River Road interchange. Results of two studies showed an increase in overall delay on the 91 corridor, an increase in unsafe movements by drivers, and a decrease in the total number of cars moving through the area.  Therefore, Caltrans has determined the ramp meter will continue to operate, allowing one car per lane per green light. The studies were performed at the request of Caltrans, RCTC Commissioner Karen Spiegel, and members of the public who communicated with RCTC, Caltrans, and the City of Corona.