The Point: Design work starting now and construction to start in 2021; approximately 1,800 new jobs expected

One of the most requested improvements to the area near the 15 and 91 interchange in Corona is moving forward.

The Riverside County Transportation Commission approved a $165 million contract last month with Myers-Rados Joint Venture to design and build the 15/91 Express Lane Connector, which will provide the missing link between the two tolled facilities. The total project cost is estimated at $270 million.

Although the COVID-19 crisis is continuing, the Governor’s Executive Order N-33-20 has designated employees of construction sites and projects as part of California’s essential workforce, so work on this project is proceeding.

When completed, drivers will be able to travel from the eastbound 91 Express Lanes to the northbound 15 Express Lanes that are under construction now, and from the future southbound 15 Express Lanes to the westbound 91 Express Lanes. These new structures will allow easier access to the 91 corridor for residents of Eastvale, Jurupa Valley, and Norco.

The project also will extend the eastbound 91 Express Lanes and an adjacent eastbound 91 general-purpose lane about one-half mile east to Promenade Avenue in Corona. This eastern extension will help with vehicle merging in this area.

The project will:

  • Allow a seamless transition between the 91 and 15 tolled Express Lanes
  • Reduce traffic congestion at the interchange and along eastbound 91
  • Improve travel time reliability
  • Enhance safety by reducing lane merging
  • Add approximately 1,800 jobs, based on methodology from the Federal Highway Administration

Design work will be under way through spring 2021, followed by construction. During construction, drivers should expect nighttime lane closures and connector closures, as well as weekend closures. The new connector is expected to open in 2023.

“Building this connector will improve the way we travel in Riverside County and offer more choices for drivers,” said Commission Chair Ben J. Benoit, who also serves as a Wildomar City Council member. “Design work that is starting now will be performed using safe practices, with most staff working remotely. Projects like these reflect our Commission’s fiscal responsibility and are providing new jobs that are important for Riverside County’s economic recovery,” he said.

Funding totaling $180 million is provided by Senate Bill 132, as well as $90 million from surplus toll revenue. Senate Bill 132 was a special transportation funding bill by State Assembly Member Sabrina Cervantes and State Senator Richard Roth that was approved by the Governor in 2017. The unprecedented legislation also funded four other transportation projects in Riverside County.

Revenue collected from tolls is used to operate and maintain the lanes and to repay the construction debt. Surplus revenue is reserved for additional transportation improvements in the corridor, including this project and the 91 Corridor Operations Project, a new westbound lane between Green River Road and Route 241, scheduled to start this fall.