The Point: Community Project Funding would help expand transportation options and improve safety

RCTC submitted requests this month for Community Project Funding through the U.S. House Appropriations Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee to help further planned transportation projects in the Coachella Valley and in western Riverside County.

Requests for $5 million each were made of Senator Dianne Feinstein, Senator Alex Padilla, and Representative Raul Ruiz for the Coachella Valley-San Gorgonio Rail Corridor Service Project.

Caltrans and RCTC are proposing daily passenger rail service between Los Angeles and the Coachella Valley. The project would transform southern California, creating economic opportunity in disadvantaged communities, improving access to job centers and attractions, providing alternatives to traveling on I-10, and reducing emissions to improve air quality.

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RCTC and Caltrans have nearly completed the program-level environmental document for this proposed service.  The funding would allow work to advance to the next stage – project-level environmental studies and preliminary engineering of the 76-mile eastern section of track, up to six stations, a new third main track, and associated grade crossings and signal improvements on the eastern end of the corridor.

A $3 million request was made of Representative Ken Calvert to help fund design of the proposed Interstate 15 Express Lanes Project Southern Extension.

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RCTC has proposed extending the existing 15 Express Lanes by an additional 14.5 miles, from Cajalco Road in Corona, through the Temescal Valley, to Route 74/Central Avenue in Lake Elsinore. Once built, the project is expected to improve traffic operations and travel times, expand travel choice through carpooling and mass transit, increase travel time reliability, and manage long-term traffic congestion spurred by increased goods movement and population growth. Preliminary engineering and environmental studies are under way now.

In addition, RCTC requested $3 million of Representative Mark Takano to help fund construction of the City of Riverside’s Third Street Grade Separation Project.

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The city proposes reducing public safety risks by redirecting vehicle/pedestrian/bicycle traffic below the busy railroad tracks at Third Street. Riverside is trisected by two freight rail lines, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway and Union Pacific Railroad. These rail lines carry more than 75% of the freight handled by the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach through Riverside. Every day, approximately 128 trains pass through the city. At-grade crossings pose safety risks, create traffic delays, increase emissions from idling vehicles, and delay emergency response. The $3 million-request would allow construction of the project to separate Third Street from the railroad tracks and connect the downtown and Eastside communities of Riverside.

RCTC hopes to build upon its success of securing $5 million in Community Project Funding from Representative Calvert for the Smart Freeway Pilot in Murrieta and Temecula and will continue to advocate for additional funding from state and federal partners.