Thursday, April 12, 2007

Traffic Planning Changes Direction (Press-Enterprise032307)

Traffic planning changes direction

INLAND: A new focus is on unclogging north-south freeways and widening paths between counties.

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10:00 PM PDT on Friday, March 23, 2007

The Press-Enterprise

Interstate 215 between Riverside and San Bernardino, once a cakewalk compared with the perpetually congested Highway 91, is now anything but. Much like on Interstate 15 between Corona and Ontario, traffic moving north and south begins slowing to a crawl in the late afternoon and remains maddening for hours.

"Fifteen years ago, unless there was an accident, there was no such thing as traffic coming to a stop on the 215, either north or south," Grand Terrace City Manager Tom Schwab said. "Now, it happens every day."

Transportation agencies in the Inland area are taking notice. After years of focusing on helping commuters drive east-west to employment centers outside Riverside and San Bernardino counties, planners are looking for more north-south traffic solutions within the Inland area.

The most recent effort involves developing ways for drivers to get from Moreno Valley to San Bernardino County without ever getting on Interstate 215. A recent round of state transportation funding also included money for north-south projects on Interstate 215 through Murrieta and through downtown San Bernardino.

One Riverside County supervisor, Bob Buster, is calling for a change in transportation priorities to reflect the needs of Inland-only commuting. He said too much attention has been given to getting San Bernardino County residents to Los Angeles County and Riverside County residents to Orange County.

"There hasn't been much, if any coordination between Riverside and San Bernardino counties," Buster said. "We need to come home here to the Inland Empire and invest here first. We need to shift gears."

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Many of the area's north-south routes are becoming increasingly congested as a result of job growth in Corona, Ontario, Chino and Rancho Cucamonga. Those areas are generating more jobs than residents can fill, a phenomenon that did not exist anywhere in the Inland area a decade ago, said John Husing, an economist who studies the region.

As a result, those areas have become commuting destinations within Riverside and San Bernardino counties, much like Orange County was for the entire Inland region in decades past, Husing said.

"That internal commute (within the Inland area) over time is going to get more and more important, and that external commute is going to be less and less important," Husing said. "That is already starting to happen."

The question is whether the transportation agencies in the two Inland counties can work closely enough to clear potential traffic snarls before they reach a crisis point, Buster said.

"We should understand San Bernardino's perspectives, and they should understand ours, intimately," Buster said. "Without that, all the rest of what we hope for here is going to be seriously hamstrung."

In recent history, however, Riverside County has appeared more aligned with Orange County than San Bernardino County. The Riverside-Orange counties collaboration has been driven largely by worsening congestion on Highway 91, the main artery between them.

Elected representatives from the two counties meet several times a year to hash out potential solutions on Highway 91. Transportation agencies in the two counties lobby together, plan together and spend money together.

For example, during a recent meeting in Irvine in which the state doled out $4.5 billion in congestion-relief funds, Riverside and Orange counties worked to funnel money to Highway 91 on both sides of the county line. When the ploy worked, it was hugs and handshakes all around.

San Bernardino County officials worked mainly among themselves in an effort to bring home more money for Interstate 10. When their effort failed, they filed out of the room in silence while officials from Riverside and Orange counties celebrated.

The heads of the transportation agencies in Riverside and San Bernardino counties said that, despite recent events, they always have worked together on behalf of commuters who stay in the area. For example, they are trying to improve access between Moreno Valley and the Colton-Grand Terrace area.

Eric Haley, executive director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission, said his organization has worked closely with Orange County for about four years, since the two groups worked together to help Orange County buy the 91 Express Lanes from a private company.

But Riverside County's most important ally is San Bernardino County "today, tomorrow and 25 years from now," Haley said.

That cooperation is needed more now than ever, said Tony Grasso, executive director of San Bernardino Associated Governments. One project -- widening Interstate 215 between the 60/91/215 interchange and Interstate 10 -- would benefit from the kind of relationship that Riverside County has with Orange County.

"I don't think they (Riverside County officials) are looking for a different dance partner," Grasso said. "It's just that, right now, that (Highway 91 improvements) is the song that is playing. Hopefully they will dance with us when we get everything lined up on the 215."

Inland county Traffic

The number of vehicles moving within and between Riverside and San Bernardino counties on an average weekday continues to grow.

From San Bernardino

County to Riverside


32,804 in 1990

52,016 in 2000

97,961 in 2010*

99,231 in 2020*

113,752 in 2030*

Within San Bernardino


309,195 in 1990

456,568 in 2000

714,950 in 2010*

833,619 in 2020*

969,348 in 2030*

Within Riverside County

223,658 in 1990

417,137 in 2000

756,473 in 2010*

968,588 in 2020*

1,124,331 in 2030*

From Riverside County to

San Bernardino County

39,565 in 1990

60,412 in 2000

135,302 in 2010*

181,510 in 2020*

188,407 in 2030*


Source: Southern California Association of Governments

BS Ranch Perspective:

They need to come up with a Freeway system rather then Serface Streets that are the best way to travel. Right now Riverside Ave., Sierra Ave. in Rialto, and Fontana are so Conjested in the Morning and Afternoon from people commuting back and forth between Riverside County & San Bernardino County, just to manage the Freeway System. By to so, the Serface street of Riverside Ave, and Sierra Ave. Ceadar Ave all are so conjested in the afternoon, and Morning that it is not even funny it is down right a temper trap ready for someone to go off and start to shoot the fellow driver that is just as angry about their commute, that they are willing to die over the whole thing.

By coming up with a wide Street to travel on that filters into a narrowed City Street is a joke. Especially by the Growth figures that they are coming up with at the end of the story. There has to be a Freeway answer to the whole mess.

BS Ranch

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