Riverside Roundup – 02/08/2009

Interchange project put to bed

60/91/215 interchange

After nearly 5 years of construction — and 20-year wait for local commuters — Caltrans says it has finally closed the books on the 60/91/215 interchange/freeway project in downtown Riverside. The final tally for the rebuild comes in at $437 million, approximately 40 percent over initial estimates and almost two years past expected completion.
The massive project, which rebuilt the 1950s-era cloverleaf interchange and nearly 8 miles of Interstate 215 — including new off-ramps and bridges — eastward from downtown to Moreno Valley, used a new construction method called “design sequencing.” Officials now say the method, originally intended to save both time and money, may have proved too daunting for such a complex project.
Regardless, commuters now have a much smoother ride through downtown Riverside as well as near UC Riverside. However, some additional ancillary work remains, namely the rebuilding of the 60/215 split at the eastern end of the project. Originally included as part of the main project, work on the 60/215 split is scheduled to begin next year with completion expected in 2012.

Transit center likely to remain in place

Downtown Transit Center

After several years of attempting to relocate the downtown bus transit center to the nearby Metrolink commuter train station, both the city and Riverside Transit Agency have opted to keep the center on Fairmount Street just off Market Street. Officials say finding suitable land near the Vine Street train station proved difficult.
RTA says it will instead concentrate on building a new and possibly expanded terminal at its current location. However, not included is a long-term spot for Greyhound, which the city is in the process of finding another location for apart from the regional bus system.

Library/museum project update

Central Library

A few weeks back, Riverside City Manager Brad Hudson updated the city council on the much delayed renovation and expansion plans for downtown’s Central Library and Metropolitan Museum.
Hudson unveiled two new proposals: a “basic approach” and an “expanded approach.” The new proposals incorporate a third civic building, the nearby Municipal Auditorium, which had been slated for its own upgrades and renovation.
The “basic” plan, which is pegged at $45 million, would renovate all three buildings as well as provide essential upgrades and seismic retrofitting for the
museum and auditorium. The $75 million “expanded” plan would include renovation/upgrades of all three plus expansions of both the library and museum. A variation of this plan also includes the possibility of demolishing the current library building (an idea we’re not very fond of) for a new and larger one. The latter, more expensive proposal would likely require the passing of a property tax bond to help pay for the expansion plans.
The council is scheduled to take up the new proposals during its Feb. 24th meeting.

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