Riverside County’s Transportation Commission has been awarded $152 million in funds for a project to construct express toll lanes along the Interstate 15 corridor. The funding comes from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Build America Bureau in the form of a long-term, low-interest TIFIA loan.

“This major award means project financing is complete and construction can begin on the I-15 Express Lanes,” the commission said, adding that it expects the new lanes to open to traffic in mid-2020.

The I-15 corridor is a major north-south trucking and passenger traffic route that links inland Southern California to Los Angeles and Orange counties as well as to Las Vegas.

The overall cost of the construction project is about $455 million. In addition to the TIFIA loan, local and federal funds will be used to pay for part of the initial construction, including Riverside County’s voter-approved transportation sales tax program.

The project is intended to improve mobility in the fourth most-populous county in California, and 11th most-populous in the United States, in a fiscally responsible manner.

The county commission estimates the project will not only address current and future congestion issues, but will improve efficiency and reliability of goods movement from the nation’s largest port complex—the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. It will also create more than 3,300 jobs during construction and 525 permanent jobs after completion, the USDOT said.

The improvement project, along a 15-mile corridor of I-15, is comprehensive. Once complete, the project will provide managed lanes, both Northbound and Southbound, plus new retaining walls, storm water runoff treatment services, 11 bridge widenings, tie-ins to existing travel lanes, an electronic toll collection system, a customer service center and a traffic management system.

Marty Klepper, executive director of the Build America Bureau, said, “By leveraging a loan from the bureau, more projects like the I-15 Express Lanes Project can become viable.”

Source: AASHTO Journal