Expansion project underway for Riverside Freeway into downtown

Drivers using the 91 Freeway in Riverside of late have noticed construction barriers, closed bridges and the removal of large swaths of landscaping along six miles of the freeway from Adams Street into downtown Riverside. The changes are part of a $232 million HOV lane project that began this past Spring.

2012 – Arlington Avenue*

Expected to be completed in 2015, the project includes the addition of an HOV lane in both directions (Adams to 60/91/215 interchange), new overcrossings (Ivy, Cridge, Pachappa R/R, Fourteenth), widened bridges/undercrossings (Jefferson, Madison, Brockton/Mary, Arlington, Central) and reconfigured and/or widened ramps (Madison, Arlington, Central, Fourteenth, Tenth/University). The project also adds a second eastbound onramp for Arlington Avenue (at Jane Street) and additional sound walls (Arlington, Central, Fourteenth).

2012 – Fourteenth and University/Tenth*

One major aspect of the project is the rebuilding of the Fourteenth Street bridge in downtown, which will add separate “braided” ramps between Fourteenth and Tenth/University, eliminating the need for traffic to share the same on/off ramps as currently configured. (The current westbound Ninth Street onramp moves one block to Tenth Street as part of this reconfiguration.)

Lastly, the project also includes replacement landscaping — something everyone (including us) will be glad to see following the recent removal of the existing mature landscaping, including several nice groupings of palm trees (which we’re sad to see go).

2012 – Barren embankments near Fourteenth Street

Most folks are likely unaware, but Riverside was among the initial cities to request (and essentially require) landscaping and scenic design of the freeway when it was built through the city during the late 1950s. You’ll notice these design features, such as lowered roadway with landscaped embankments, when driving the 91 Freeway between Tyler Street and the downtown interchange. It’s nice to know this “scenic” heritage will remain, albeit on a slightly smaller scale.

The Riverside project is the last major piece in a 20+ year old master plan for adding an HOV lane and widening the 91 Freeway through western Riverside County, from the Orange/Riverside county line eastward through Corona and southwestern Riverside to the downtown 60/91/215 interchange. (However, a future round of construction on the 91 could begin shortly as a plan to extend the 91 Express (toll) Lanes from Orange County to Pierce Street in Riverside continues moving forward.)

Then & Now: 91 Freeway: 1960 – 2008 – 2012



Images courtesy of: * Riverside County Transportation Commission, ** Google Maps

Sources: Caltrans, Riverside County Transportation Commission

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