One more westbound 91 Freeway lane pondered in Corona
Vehicles using the 91 Freeway toll lanes in Corona — and revenues from them — have far surpassed expectations since the lanes opened almost a year ago but the corridor still needs some fixes, Riverside County transportation officials say.
An additional westbound freeway lane, from the 71 Freeway to the 241 toll road, was one solution presented Wednesday, Feb. 14, to the Riverside County Transportation Commission.
Corona Mayor Karen Spiegel and a few other commission members cited that option as one worth exploring to deal with back-ups on the 91 and nearby city roads that have left some commuters frustrated.
Since the 91 toll lanes opened in March, they’ve been used by 1.2 million vehicles — about 40 percent more than the agency projected — report to the commission states. That’s 37,893 vehicles on an average day. That figure has resulted in $22.1 million in toll revenue — about $15.5 million above what the agency had anticipated.
The project — which added two toll lanes and one general-use lane — have reduced congestion during many times of the day on the heavily-traveled corridor, said Michael Blomquist, the commission’s toll program director.
But, he said, there are some “hot spots” where motorists continue to face congestion. They include the entrance to the toll lanes on the westbound 91, past McKinley Street, and the northbound 15 Freeway connector to the westbound 91 entering the toll lanes.
One of the worst is westbound 91 from the 71 Freeway going past Green River Road and toward the Orange County line. During the morning commute, 1,800 to 2,000 vehicles an hour are entering the westbound 91 from the 71 and Green River, Toll Project Manager Dave Thomas told the commission.
As a result, Green River — which connects to the 15 through the Foothill Parkway — has seen vehicles backing up for a mile or two on weekday mornings, residents say.
“What we’re hearing from the community is we’re spending more time on the freeway to get where we need to go,” said Michele Wentworth, a leader of a new group called the Greater Corona Traffic Alliance.
Wentworth said she’d like to see the commission used the unexpected revenues to pay for fixes — and do them as soon as possible.
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