The Point: A $15 million grant of state gas tax funds enables safety and congestion relief improvements to advance.

The Riverside County Transportation Commission, in partnership with the City of Lake Elsinore, has successfully secured $15 million of gas tax funds for upgrades to the I-15/Railroad Canyon Road interchange.  At the request of the City of Lake Elsinore, RCTC has been the lead agency for the project since 2013.

The California Transportation Commission approved the final piece of funding needed for construction at its meeting in San Diego on May 16.

“This is welcome news. This long-overdue project will provide traffic relief for not only the City of Lake Elsinore, but also for Menifee, Canyon Lake and the County of Riverside,” said RCTC Commissioner and Lake Elsinore City Council Member Robert “Bob” Magee. “Relief is on the way, and I appreciate the State and fellow RCTC Commissioners for their funding support.”

The project will result in several major changes to the current interchange that are intended to improve safety and reduce congestion, including:

  • Two new lanes on Railroad Canyon Road through the interchange,
  • Reconstruction of the northbound diamond ramps to hook ramps to connect to Grape Street,
  • Construction of auxiliary and deceleration lanes on I-15, and
  • Construction of improved pedestrian and bicycle facilities near the interchange.

Recognizing the economic and population growth in the Lake Elsinore area and increasing traffic volumes on I-15 and Railroad Canyon Road, RCTC sought these competitive dollars from the Local Partnership Program, a new funding source made possible by Senate Bill 1, also known as the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017.  This legislation increased motor fuel taxes and vehicle fees to pay for transportation improvements across California.  The Local Partnership Program provides incentive grants to government agencies that have enacted their own local “self-help” transportation taxes or fees.  Riverside County voters approved such a self-help revenue source – Measure A, a half-cent sales tax for local transportation improvements – making the region eligible to receive this new state funding.

The award for I-15/Railroad Canyon Road interchange adds to the list of projects in Riverside County now able to advance, due to the new gas tax funds and fees.

Construction at the interchange can begin in early 2020 with all funding necessary now secured.  However, an initiative petition is currently in circulation to repeal the taxes and fees. If the initiative petition qualifies for the ballot and is approved by a majority of voters, the I-15/Railroad Canyon Road interchange project, as well as other projects funded by this source, will have insufficient funding to be completed.