New express toll lanes on Interstate 15 between the south side of Corona and the Pomona (60) Freeway in Eastvale became available to motorists Saturday, offering faster transit on the busy north-south corridor.
“They’re open, and everything is going smoothly,” Riverside County Transportation Commission spokesman John Standiford told City News Service, adding that they became accessible shortly after 7 a.m.
The $472 million I-15 Express Lanes Project, which began in March 2018, is essentially finished, though a few finishing touches will be applied in the months ahead, according to the RCTC.
“RCTC is excited to open these new lanes to provide another way to get to work, school or recreational destinations,” agency Chair Tem Jan Harnik said. “We know that time is precious, and the express lanes offer convenience and reliable trip times for drivers.”
The project entailed installing two toll lanes on both the north- and southbound sides of I-15, covering a 15-mile stretch.
Standiford said the toll system will function like the one on the Riverside (91) Freeway in Corona, with motorists required to have a FasTrak transponder attached to their vehicles.
The transponders are interrogated by electronic scanners placed along the route, and drivers pay according to how many segments of the tolled corridor they use, he said.
For a limited time, motorists carpooling with three or more people will receive a 50% to 100% discount, depending on their load, and motorcyclists will be exempt from paying anything, while operators of zero-emission vehicles will be eligible for a long-term 15% discount, according to Standiford.
More information is available at www.riversideexpress.com.
The project involved not only freeway widening, but also expansion of 11 overpasses, the construction of sound walls and freeway drainage improvements along the corridor.
Officials said $25 million that had been reserved for the project was not needed and was allocated by the RCTC Board of Directors last year to the 15 Corridor Operations Project, which involves adding a regular traffic lane, for general purpose use, between Cajalco Road just south of Corona to Weirick Road about a mile farther south, closer to the Temescal Valley.
The I-15 Express Lanes Project was paid for through county Measure A revenue, generated from a half-cent sales tax on retail purchases, as well as $152 million in federal infrastructure loans that will have to be amortized in the coming years.
Standiford said roughly 3,300 construction jobs were created by the project.