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91 Freeway commutes could be eased this week with the opening of a new lane

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Motorists braving the heavily traveled 91 corridor between the Inland Empire and Orange County could see their commute ease starting Thursday.

Orange County officials Thursday will inaugurate a new eastbound lane on a six-mile section of the Riverside Freeway. Commuters will be able to use it starting Thursday morning, officials said.

The yearlong, $65-million widening project was the first in Orange County funded largely by the massive federal stimulus package enacted in 2009.

“Any relief we can provide for those commuters is going to be very welcome,” said Joel Zlotnik, spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Authority.

The added lane will run from the 241 toll road to the 71 Corona Expressway and will increase the eastbound lanes from four to five. There are also two toll lanes down the center of the freeway in both directions.

Transportation officials say the extra lane should make it easier for the estimated 300,000 commuters who creep along the route each day. Many live in Inland Empire bedroom communities but hold jobs in Orange and Los Angeles counties.

The 91 bottleneck has vexed planners for decades. A partial answer was provided a decade ago with the opening of toll lanes along a portion of the freeway in Orange County, offering commuters a quicker pay-as-you-go method. Last year, new lanes were added to the 241 tollway, which cuts from the 91 to south Orange County.

There's not a lot of room to add more toll-free lanes because the 91 runs through a narrow canyon amid several mountain ranges. In recent years, planners have talked about tunneling 11.5 miles through the Cleveland National Forest to build a new route into Orange County.

But those plans on are hold because there is no money for the estimated $8.6-billion project, Zlotnik said.

County transportation leaders will gather at 10 a.m. Thursday at 8712 E. Santa Ana Canyon Road, just off the 91, to dedicate the new lane. 

[For the record: Joel Zlotnik's name was misspelled in an earlier version.]

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Photo: Traffic on the 91 Freeway. Credit: Los Angeles Times

 

 

 
Comments () | Archives (7)

Finally!

"But those plans on are hold because there is no money for the estimated $8.6-billion project, Zlotnik said."

Expect more of this. Californians decided that they like gridlock, and voted an all Democratic ticket this year. Last year, the Democrats in the Legislature voted to phase out gas tax money for the use of roads, and cities won't be getting any money for roads by 2015.

Good. No more money should be spent on roads.

The money should be funneled into public transportation instead.

In 5 years, the headline will read "commuters in OC excited for new lane addition on 91 to ease congestion". How many more lane additions do we need in OC? Start focusing on alternative transportation with rail and bus only lanes (rapid express buses). A bus only lane will take buses from Irvine to Brea in 25 minutes today, in 5 years, and 25 years, and 50 years. A new traffic lane's effects will be eliminated in less than a year. There has never been a new lane construction that has permanently "reduced traffic" and never will. The focus has to start on alternative transportation. Not more of the same...

The good news is that there is an additional lane to help relieve traffic. The bad news that this new lane will do little to help relieve traffic. Santa Ana Canyon traffic is at a standstill almost at any hour including weekends. This new lane at a cost of billions may help short term, but within a few months traffic will be back to pre lane opening speeds as has happened on recent new Orange County freeway improvements . More lanes are not the answer, No matter how many lanes are added, (within reason) traffic will grow to fill the additional lanes. Adding more trains to MetroLink, adding new lines to more places and adding new bus service to get to the MetroLink stations can and will help more to relieve traffic than additional traffic lanes.

This lane will help and if California and Federal can keep their hands off the transportation funds, we can add lanes where needed to keep the traffic flowing.

Let's not let The Riverside Freeway ever get to the dilapidated sorry state of the Santa Ana Freeway in LA County, while LA spends billions to build a two mile subway that that masses will never use.

Drove home Thursday night through the new lane at 5:30 pm. Instead of a 4 lane traffic jam, it was a 5 lane traffic jam...Hope that isn't a look at things to come.


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