Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Another reason why the I-15 needs transit infrastructure

Concept: What the Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium area may look like with infill marketplace growth and high occupancy vehicle and transit infrastructure.
A Lake Elsinore freeway interchange is currently beginning to look like Temecula where long traffic queues are spilling over onto high speed freeway lanes. Such situations make the highway hazardous as traffic in the far-right lane can come to a dead stop without notice. The location is the I-15 freeway at Railroad Canyon Road in the Lake Elsinore Diamond Stadium area.

For the past 14 years, officials have been attempting to fix this interchange with one problem after another obstructing progress. With peak-hour traffic now spilling over into lanes, governments have ran out of excuses to get this junction upgraded. When safety becomes an issue, officials need to fix it without delay.

On top of the short range interchange upgrade which has taken nearly a decade and a half to plan and fund, public officials should incorporate transit infrastructure proposals into its long range master plan so that high occupancy vehicle travel can become a more feasible travel option in this busy area. RCTC previously proposed adding a single carpool lane along I-15 between Murrieta and Lake Elsinore and dual high occupancy toll lanes each way north into San Bernardino County. The upgrades have since been scaled back to exclude this region. Because of a stubbornly soft economy combined with artificially inflated public construction costs, no HOV or rail infrastructure is proposed for this area other than on-ramp meter carpool lanes and a local RTA bus transit center.

Placing a direct access ramp, transit station, and park & ride at or near this area should be a part of long term plans so that HOV's can bypass the congested interchange altogether and access Railroad Canyon Road via the DAR and the connecting surface streets. With major development proposals in store for the Temecula Valley region down south, dual 2+ carpool lanes for the I-15 freeway and a rail line should also be included in the master plan.  Regarding the specific station locations, this region and the downtown Lake Elsinore area would be prime candidates for a future multi modal train station and an RTA transit hub.

Such HOV infrastructure will be needed to accommodate the existing traffic demands and future growth. Adding general purpose lanes and widening freeway interchanges does redistribute traffic flow with the added capacity, but it's the high occupancy vehicle infrastructure that actually reduces congestion.

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