It may have taken a tad longer than what had initially been planned, but Butterfield Stage Road is officially four lanes through its entire length through Temecula.
The long-awaited widening of the roadway north of Rancho California Road – which has been a major bottleneck on Temecula’s east side for years – opened to traffic at the end of May, Pat Thomas, director of Temecula Public Works, said. Though crews are still working on some minor improvements to the road, Thomas said, all lanes are open.
Construction began in July 2019 to widen Butterfield Stage Road to four lanes through the area, which was by that time the only part of the road that had only two lanes.
In a video released on the city’s website earlier in June, Thomas thanked all of the contractors involved in the project: engineering services company Stantec, general contractor Alabbasi Construction and consulting project managers MB5 Consulting.
Thomas also said the project was made possible by funding from the community facilities district for the planned Sommers Bend community, located off Butterfield Stage Road to the north and east of the road widening project.
Chuck Washington, District 3 supervisor of Riverside County, who was mayor of Temecula in 2012 when construction began on another portion of Butterfield Stage Road that connected it all the way through between Murrieta Hot Springs and Rancho California roads, also spoke in the video released by the city.
“So much has been accomplished to get to completion, and though many will not appreciate all of what was done, everyone will appreciate the final product,” Washington said.
Zak Schwank, city councilmember of Temecula, highlighted the fact that the expanded road will not only alleviate vehicle traffic congestion but also means dedicated bicycle lanes are now available between north and south Temecula.
“What this also does is it creates a nice north-south connector for people riding bikes,” Schwank said.
The old two-lane stretch of Butterfield Stage through the area was long a hazard for cyclists.
“This has always been a pinch point for folks through here for many, many years, and now we’re gonna have these buffered bike lanes connect to the south side of town and Temecula Creek path, and then eventually up to Sommers Bend and then on into (the) Santa Gertrudis Creek path to eventually connect on into Old Town,” Schwank said.
Thomas said in an email that while the original construction contract for the project was for a total of a little more than $6 million, the city is expecting the final cost to be higher when change orders are taken into account, though those numbers are not available yet.
Also included in the project is an expansion of Rancho California Road to four lanes, two in each direction, just east of its intersection with Butterfield Stage Road, which should provide traffic relief for motorists leaving wine country in the evenings. That portion of the project is in Riverside County, but construction was funded by the city of Temecula, a city official said in January.
Will Fritz can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.