TRAFFIC: More challenges ahead for 91 commuters
Closures at eastbound 14th Street off-ramp in Riverside and 15/91 connector in Corona adding to woes.
As if commuting along Highway 91 wasn’t challenging enough, more obstacles will confront drivers in the next few weeks thanks to construction projects.
Downtown Riverside commuters may temporarily have new traffic headaches to contend with starting Monday night, when a key 91 freeway off-ramp is closed for nearly two weeks.
The eastbound 14th Street exit ramp will be closed at 10 p.m. Monday, Jan. 4, through 7 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 16, so road crews can finish realigning the ramp as part of the project to widen six miles of the highway between Adams Street and the 91/60/215 interchange in Riverside, according to a California Department of Transportation news release.
Caltrans officials advise drivers to use alternate freeway exits at Central Avenue or University Avenue during the closure.
City officials are using social media to alert drivers to the closure, which will have a significant impact during that time, city spokesman Phil Pitchford said.
“The 14th Street off-ramp of the freeway is a major entry point into downtown for a lot of people who work and visit downtown,” he said.
The ramp closure is likely to increase traffic on Magnolia Avenue between Central Avenue and downtown, he added.
There is some good news in the area. Nearby Ivy Street Bridge reopened over the freeway Wednesday, Dec. 30. Ivy Street Bridge was demolished Aug. 16, 2014, and rebuilt to fit the widened freeway, said Caltrans spokeswoman Tyeisha Prunty.
Caltrans officials think nearby alternate exits will help prevent traffic congestion.
“We don’t expect it to be a major impact. There are other off-ramps that can be used,” Prunty said.
Farther west in Corona, the Riverside County Transportation Commission’s 91 project will prompt closures of southbound lanes of Interstate 15 at the 15/91 interchange between Monday and Friday. The roadway will close at 10 p.m. each day and reopen by 5 a.m. the next morning.
Caltrans officials are recommending motorists take the I-15 connector to eastbound 91, exit at McKinley Street, and then enter the westbound 91 to reconnect to southbound 15.
Crews will be placing temporary support for the construction of a bridge that will serve as the new express lane connector between the 15 and 91.
Over the past year, ramp closures along the 91 have severely limited access to the freeway in Corona. Earlier this month, the east and westbound 91 Grand Boulevard off-ramps closed permanently, and project officials say the Maple Street off-ramp will remain closed until at least the end of January.
The 91 expansion project, a $1.4 billion addition of two tolled express lanes and one regular lane in an 11-mile stretch through Corona, is expected to be finished in early 2017.
For now, the area is stuck with narrowed lanes and an uptick in crashes in an area known as the “Corona squeeze.” The three-year undertaking aims to prepare for a 50-percent jump in traffic over the next 20 years, Riverside County Transportation Commission studies show.
Staff writer Patrick O’Neill contributed to this report.
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