The 91 Project will provide significant benefits to drivers, residents and businesses along this heavily traveled corridor. Once completed, the new lanes and other improvements are expected to save time, offer choice and reliability, boost safety, enhance access and job creation, promote ridesharing, reduce pollution and aid the movement of goods along the region's roadways. The project will build upon the successful Orange County 91 Express Lanes, reinvest toll revenue along the 91 corridor and employ a design-build approach, which will save three to four years of construction time.
Project Fast Facts
Click an item below to learn more about each benefit.
New regular lanes and tolled express lanes will help drivers save time.
Studies show that once the project is completed, users of the regular lanes can save an average of 12 minutes per day when traveling round trip during peak morning and afternoon hours. Users of the new tolled express lanes can save up to an additional 78 minutes per day, compared to using the regular lanes. Drivers in other lanes will save time, too, due to the new regular lanes and by increased capacity in regular lanes from drivers who choose to use the express lanes.
With the addition of regular lanes and express lanes, drivers will have a choice of new lanes. During peak commute hours, drivers can choose to use express lanes for greater travel time certainty, taking much of the guesswork and stress out of when they reach their destinations. During less congested travel periods, drivers can choose regular lanes.
More than 141,000 FasTrak transponders are in use in Orange County, and of these, 64 percent (nearly 70,000) are owned by Inland Empire motorists.
Although express lanes will replace existing carpool lanes, vehicles with three or more occupants and a transponder will be able to use the express lanes free of charge or at reduced rates – the same Three Ride Free policy that is in place now in Orange County. Motorcyclists are also able to use the express lanes free of charge or at reduced rates.
The project is designed to reduce collisions and decrease emergency response times through operational improvements and new safety features.
Collision rates on eastbound 91 are higher than the statewide average, with rear-end collisions most common. The 91 Project is planned to reduce traffic congestion and stop-and-go conditions that lead to rear-end collisions.
New roadways will collect and distribute traffic on westbound and eastbound 91 between I-15 and Main Street, helping to reduce congestion and related collisions. This will improve the short traffic weaving section and vehicle conflicts between Main Street and I-15.
Express lanes will be separated from regular lanes using a “soft barrier” with plastic dividers and a buffer. This is the same system used by the Orange County 91 Express Lanes. According to the 2011 Customer Satisfaction Survey, 97 percent of drivers of the existing 91 Express Lanes view the lanes as safe.
Roadway and interchange improvements will allow better response times for emergency vehicles, including police, fire and ambulance services.
Improvements will be made to freeway interchanges at Green River Road, Serfas Club Drive/Auto Center Drive, Maple Street, Lincoln Avenue and Main Street, which should reduce delays and improve access to and from the 91.
During peak hours, 91 traffic backs up onto city streets, and some drivers use local streets and cut through neighborhoods to avoid congestion. The project is expected to discourage this behavior.
Frontage roads north and south of the 91 will be realigned for better traffic flow. New sidewalks and bicycle lanes also will be added.
The project is creating 16,200 jobs and provide a 2.3 percent permanent increase in local taxable sales, according to Beacon Economics, an independent economics research firm..
Riverside County’s unemployment rate is higher than the nation’s average, and the 91 Project will provide a much needed boost in short-term and long-term job opportunities. Of the 16,200 new jobs forecasted, about 4,600 are related to project construction – the balance would be long-term employment.
The 91 project will enhance access to Corona businesses, resulting in potential new businesses and increased job opportunities.
The logistics industry has been identified as one of the region’s most promising job sectors. Ongoing infrastructure investments are needed to ensure timely deliveries from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to Riverside County, and the 91 Project will support the movement of goods through the region.
RCTC is using an innovative design-build approach, which will speed up project delivery and traffic congestion relief by three to four years. A design-build approach also improves coordination among project partners.
RCTC approved a design-build contract with a joint venture team headed by Atkinson Contractors and Walsh Construction Company in May 2013. Construction is underway and new lanes are expected to open by 2017.
The 91 Project will offer better access to Metrolink commuter rail lines, Riverside Transit Authority express bus service, Corona Cruiser and the Santa Ana River Trail, enhancing travel options between Riverside County and Orange County.
RCTC continues to invest in commuter rail service along the 91 corridor, including two Metrolink lines – the Inland Empire Orange County Line and the 91 Line. The North Main Corona and West Corona Metrolink stations both are within a quarter-mile of the 91. The 91 Project will improve access and reduce congestion near the stations and make Metrolink a more attractive commuting alternative.
Transit oriented redevelopment plans, separate from this project, are under way for the area along North Main Street, north of the 91. The Western Riverside Council of Governments has organized a Transit Oriented Development Advisory Committee to coordinate the planning effort.
New 91 express lanes will offer an opportunity to nearly double the amount of express bus service that now is offered along the 91. Currently, the Riverside Transit Agency and the Orange County Transportation Authority operate 21 express bus trips per day on the 91. The project will enable RTA to add 20 additional express bus trips each day, further expanding transportation options.
Improved circulation on local streets will benefit the Corona Cruiser, the City of Corona’s fixed route bus system. The Corona Cruiser offers stops at Corona City Hall, Corona Public Library, Fender Museum, Senior Center, shopping centers, medical centers, Riverside Transit Agency bus routes, North Main Corona Metrolink station and Park and Ride lots.
The Santa Ana River Trail, a 68-mile route between Riverside County and Huntington Beach, provides a dedicated, safe, uninterrupted route for cyclists and pedestrians. Ultimately, the trail will extend from the Pacific Ocean to the crest of the San Bernardino Mountains for 110 miles, making it the longest paved trail and pathway in southern California. Improvements to the 91 will enhance access to the Santa Ana River Trail, including improved parking along Green River Road.
The project will boost access to affordable housing in Riverside County by reducing travel times on the 91 and creating a livable commute.
The average home price in Riverside County is considerably less than the average home price in Orange County – leaving little choice for many Orange County workers to commute from affordably priced homes in Riverside County.
Infrastructure improvements are needed to allow people to have access to affordable housing and get to and from work without extreme traffic congestion and delay. These improvements will allow Inland Empire residents to have a livable commute to job centers in Orange County and Los Angeles County.
The 91 Project will enhance the movement of goods between the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to points east, providing timely, reliable delivery of cargo.
More than 40 percent of the nation’s imported goods enter through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – the largest port complex in the United States. The goods movement industry relies on an efficient road and rail network to move cargo from the ports to be distributed in markets across the country.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has identified traffic congestion near the ports as a severe obstacle to efficient goods movement. The 91 has the worst peak-hour traffic congestion of the routes serving the ports. Deliveries from the ports to the I-15/I-215 Interchange in Devore take three hours and 30 minutes during peak travel times on the 91, compared to two hours and 50 minutes on I-10.
Without improvements to local infrastructure, the goods movement industry and related logistics sector will continue to be compromised, which could result in loss of revenue at the ports and an increase in the price of goods delivered throughout the nation.
New regular lanes on the 91 will be designed to accommodate heavy trucks.
RCTC will mitigate the effects of the project on biological communities within the Riverside County/Santa Ana Watershed area, enhance wildlife connectivity, reduce air pollution emissions and promote ridesharing options.
To sustain biodiversity, RCTC will implement project mitigation measures in the sensitive Riverside County/Santa Ana Watershed area, including Chino Hills State Park and Riverside County Regional Conservation Authority lands. Santa Ana Canyon is an important biodiversity area, due to the Santa Ana River, Cleveland National Forest and Puente-Chino Hills Wildlife Corridor. Mitigation efforts will include creating wetlands, restoring riparian/riverine areas and restoring upland habitats.
RCTC follows its Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan (MSHCP) to determine which lands are set aside for conservation. The MSHCP is the largest in the nation, providing protection of 146 plant and animal species within 1.26 million acres.
The project will reduce air pollution emissions caused by vehicles stuck in traffic by improving travel operations with new lanes, ramp metering, auxiliary lanes, interchange reconstruction and traffic signal coordination. Better air quality also should result from increased access to public transit systems and improved traffic flow.
The new express lanes will build upon the success of the Orange County Express Lanes, a proven system which celebrated ten years in 2013. A seamless transition is planned between the 91 Express Lanes in Orange County and the new express lanes in Riverside County, with the same operator for both systems.
In 2003, the Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) purchased the 91 Express Lanes from a private operator in order to expedite improvements to the 91. Since that time, OCTA has been responsible for managing the 91 Express Lanes and setting all policy, pricing, and performance standards for these lanes.
According to the Orange County 91 Express Lane Customer Satisfaction Survey conducted in October 2011, 90 percent reported being satisfied with the 91 Express Lanes. Eight in 10 of the current 91 Express Lane users plan to use the Riverside County toll lanes, once they open to drivers.
Drivers will use the same “FasTrak” transponder used for the Orange County 91 Express Lanes and other toll lanes across California. Like the Orange County 91 Express Lanes, Riverside County toll collection will be electronic, with no toll booths needed.
Revenue generated from the new express lanes must be reinvested along the 91 Freeway.
Express lanes will be fully funded by tolls from drivers who choose to use these lanes. This revenue will fund not only the express lanes in Riverside County, but also other elements of the 91 Project.
Toll revenue would repay the federal loan received for the 91 Project. RCTC was one of only five agencies nationwide selected in 2012 to apply for funding through the federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act. This $421 million loan will fund about one-third of the $1.4 billion project cost.
By law, toll revenue that is collected must be reinvested along the 91 corridor and cannot be used by the state during budget crises.