The Point: Public will have opportunities to comment on project studies, alternatives

Preliminary engineering and environmental studies will start this summer for the proposed extension of the 15 Express Lanes between Cajalco Road in Corona and State Route 74 (Central Avenue) in Lake Elsinore. RCTC approved a professional services contract on May 8 to begin this process.

The studies will support an Environmental Impact Statement/Environmental Impact Report. The EIR/EIS will take approximately five years, due to the complexity of the project corridor, which crosses multiple jurisdictions, widens 14 bridges, and may affect numerous waterways.

The proposed project would extend the 15 Express Lanes – currently under construction from State Route 60 to Cajalco Road – an additional 14.5 miles by added two express lanes in both directions within the existing median. RCTC also will study an alternative to add one carpool lane in both directions, as well as a “No Build” alternative.

Overall, the project is intended to:

  • Improve traffic operations and travel times for general purpose lane users;

  • Expand travel choices with the addition of express lanes and carpooling;

  • Increase travel time reliability for all corridor users; and

  • Provide travel time savings and travel time certainty for express lane users.

Pending project approvals, RCTC expects to use a design-build approach to expedite project delivery. Construction could start as early as 2025, and the new lanes could open in 2028, if RCTC is able to secure funding. The total project cost is estimated to be $544 million. RCTC will explore federal, state, and local sources, including future toll revenues, for funding.

RCTC will hold open houses this fall to allow the public to provide early feedback about the study alternatives. Please register to receive notice of the open houses and other project updates.