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New Design Improves SR91 in Riverside

Fri June 15, 2012 - West Edition
Jennifer Rupp

The 6 mi. (9.6 km) stretch includes improvements to nine local under-crossings and four demo/rebuild bridges.
The 6 mi. (9.6 km) stretch includes improvements to nine local under-crossings and four demo/rebuild bridges.

In order to improve mobility through the downtown Riverside area, the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), in partnership with the Riverside County Transportation Commission, is constructing one High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lane, also called a carpool lane, in each direction of State Route 91 (SR91) from Adams Street to the 60/91/215 interchange in the City of Riverside.

SR91 is a primary truck and commuter route and carries approximately 170,000 vehicles per day within the project area on the existing three lanes in each direction. The route is often highly congested at current traffic levels, and with Riverside County’s population expected to reach 3.5 million by 2030, the vehicle pressure in this corridor will continue to increase. The improvements to the freeway through this widening project are designed to help alleviate congestion through this hub.

The cost of the project is estimated to be $232 million and is funded by Measure A, Riverside County’s half-cent sales tax for transportation; federal funds; and $157 million in Corridor Mobility Improvement Account (CMIA) funds, the state Proposition lB funding. Sema Construction Inc. of Lake Forest, Calif., is the prime contractor.

The SR91 freeway serves the entire inland region as primary freeway connection to communities including Riverside, Corona and San Bernardino. Over the past few years, significant investments have been made to improve SR91 with the reconstruction of the 60/91/215 interchange in downtown Riverside and the widening of the freeway from Adams Street to the Orange County line.

One section of the freeway that has yet to be widened is the 6-mi. (9.7 km) segment between Adams Street and the 60/91/215 interchange. The addition of a carpool lane through this area will provide HOV continuity, improve traffic safety and improve the level of service of SR91 through Riverside. Moreover, the widening of the freeway and its ensuing investment will lead to many other adjacent improvements including improved on and off-ramps at 14th Street and Arlington Avenue, relocating the 9th Street on ramp to 10th Street and the replacement of a number of bridges that cross the freeway. The overall result will be a modern transportation facility that serves motorists by adding capacity while easing access to and from the community. The project anticipates creating an estimated 1,500 jobs during its construction.

A project of this magnitude takes place over a period of several years. Work began on the SR91 HOV project in 2006 with the completion of the project study report. The project report and environmental documents were completed in August 2007. Next came the final design and groundbreaking the spring of this year. The project will be complete by 2015. Construction will be phased along the project corridor in order to minimize disruptions to traffic.

Throughout the summer, crews will be working on clearing, grubbing and retaining walls. Demolition of the 14th Street Bridge will take place this fall.

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