Did $1.4 billion 91 Freeway toll lanes project make traffic worse in Corona?
By Imran Ghori
It’s an early Wednesday morning on Green River Road in Corona. A one-mile stretch to the 91 Freeway is lit up with red brake lights as waiting cars move at a crawl.
Traffic navigation apps indicate that it will take between 23 and 29 minutes to travel that one mile.
For commuters such as Brian Catalano, a south Corona resident who drives the route to work in Irvine, the daily commute has become more frustrating as he and others complain that the 91 Freeway Express Lanes that opened in March have actually made traffic worse.
After more than a decade of planning, the $1.4 billion project added two toll lanes, plus one general lane, on an 8-mile corridor from the Orange County line to the 15 Freeway.
Catalano said commuters put up with three years of construction on the heavily-traveled freeway because officials promised them the project would relieve congestion. Now, he said, it’s created more back-ups on connecting roads such as Green River.
“The whole thing everyone is coming to terms with is you spend $1.4 billion on a project and traffic is worse,” Catalano said.
Officials with the Riverside County Transportation Commission, which oversaw the 91 toll lanes construction , acknowledge there have been some problems. But they say the project — the largest the agency’s ever completed — has been an overall success in accomplishing its goal: adding more lanes and giving commuters willing to pay a faster alternative.
“It has made a huge improvement in the afternoon commute,” said John Standiford, the commission’s deputy executive director. “The amount of congestion — it’s just night and day difference what it was before this project was completed.”
Morning commuters on the on-ramp to the westbound 91 Freeway from Green River Road in Corona are backed up in traffic on Wednesday, Dec. 6.
Toll lanes popular
Agency officials […]