The Point: Study to be postponed for about two years   

A study to weigh the possibility of new express lanes is on hold, following a vote by RCTC Commissioners on September 11.

Earlier this year, RCTC completed a feasibility study for new express lanes on State Route 91 in Riverside, State Route 60 between Jurupa Valley and Moreno Valley, and State Route 60/Interstate 215 between Riverside and Moreno Valley. The study looked at converting current carpool lanes to express lanes and, in some cases, also adding a new lane.  The Commission then voted to pursue more in-depth studies of the carpool lanes in these three areas, including analysis of multiple options on these routes.

Simultaneously, Caltrans is conducting studies of carpool lanes in Riverside County and San Bernardino County.

The Riverside City Council adopted a resolution August 20 opposing conversion of the carpool lane on State Route 91 into an express lane.  The Riverside County Board of Supervisors adopted a resolution September 10 to oppose converting carpool lanes to express lanes that do not allow two-person carpools to ride without a fee. After several RCTC Commissioners raised questions and concerns, the Commission placed the study on hold on Sept. 11.

At the meeting, Riverside Mayor and RCTC Commissioner Rusty Bailey noted the need to gather information to make an informed decision about expanding express lanes, but questioned the timing of conducting the study.

“Given the concerns raised by the Board of Supervisors and Riverside City Council and given that Caltrans has plans to do similar mobility analysis, I don’t believe this is the best use of our limited resources at this time,” he said.

Through a vote of 25-5, the Commission voted to place the study on hold until Caltrans concludes its analysis or until staff recommends that the Commission discuss the item further. The Caltrans studies are anticipated to take about two years.

In the meantime, RCTC is continuing construction of the 15 Express Lanes Project between State Route 60 and Cajalco Road, with the new lanes planned to open during the second half of 2020. RCTC also is conducting engineering and environmental studies of the 15 Express Lanes Southern Extension between Cajalco Road and State Route 74. In 2020, construction will begin on the 15/91 Express Lanes Connector, which will provide a direct connection to the 91 Express Lanes from southbound Interstate 15.