The Point: Construction bids lower than expected; work to start in October

The Riverside County Transportation Commission is scheduled to start construction of a new lane on westbound 91 in October, helping to provide traffic relief and economic recovery in Riverside County. The new, non-tolled lane will extend about two miles, from the Green River Road on-ramp in Corona to the southbound 241 connector.

The 91 Corridor Operations Project, also known as the 91 COP, was developed two years ago and accelerated to construction based on information and traffic data gathered after the 91 Express Lanes opened in 2017 with input from RCTC Commissioners and area residents. RCTC will deliver the project in partnership with Caltrans, the Orange County Transportation Authority, the City of Corona, and the Transportation Corridor Agencies.

Local residents advocated for the development of the project, due to bottlenecks they experience each morning at the Green River Road westbound on-ramp and on the 91 between Green River Road and the connector to southbound 241. The current traffic congestion creates frustration among motorists on local streets in Corona and Coronita, as well as on the 91 for Riverside County residents.

RCTC awarded a construction contract to OHL USA on August 12. The $18.9 million contract came in 27 percent lower than anticipated, a $7 million savings to taxpayers. Project funding is provided by toll revenue from the 91 Express Lanes in Riverside County and Orange County and federal funds.

The Commission also approved a $4.5 million construction management contract in May with Corona-based small business Falcon Engineering Services.

Construction is expected to take about one year. The contractor may earn two early completion bonuses totaling up to $472,500 if schedule milestones are advanced. There also are financial penalties for not reaching these milestones.

“Traffic levels are starting to return to pre-pandemic levels and the 91 continues to be a challenge for Riverside County residents,” said RCTC Chair and Wildomar City Council Member Ben J. Benoit. “We never stopped moving forward because we planned ahead and we know how important it is to keep our economy moving, especially right now.”

To add the new westbound lane, the 91 COP will:

  • Widen outer pavement along the 91 by 9 to 10 feet in some locations and restripe lanes in other locations
  • Widen the County Line Creek Undercrossing
  • Build retaining walls approximately 3,200 feet long and 6 to 28 feet tall on the north side of the 91
  • Rebuild a portion of Green River Road near the Green River Golf Club entrance
  • Replace overhead signs and add lighting

Once aboard, the contractor will develop a construction schedule and RCTC will share this information with the community. Motorists, residents, and users of the Santa Ana River Trail are invited to register for construction updates using the form below and to follow @therctc on social media for the latest information. Please watch for lane closures, narrower lanes, construction crews and equipment, and changing conditions on both the 91 and Green River Road. Noisy work also may occur.

This project is one of several that RCTC has launched this year. This spring, construction began on the I-15 Railroad Canyon Interchange in Lake Elsinore and the Pachappa Underpass in Riverside. Design started on the 15/91 Express Lanes Connector in Corona and construction is expected to kick off in 2021. In Perris, construction of the I-215 Placentia Avenue Interchange, the first contract of the Mid County Parkway, will start later this summer. Each of these projects will generate employment and economic activity to help with Riverside County’s recovery from the current recession.