Road construction projects to watch in southwest Riverside County in 2020

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Looking at the northbound on-ramp of the construction site of the Scott Road Interstate 215 Interchange Project in September. Shane Gibson photo

Riverside County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the country, and the continual construction and improvement that comes with that growth will continue into the new year. Now that it’s officially in the 2020s, here are some construction projects to watch in the southwest Riverside region:

I-15/I-215 improvements

In November, the city of Temecula received a $50 million grant from the federal government to pay for the second phase of the French Valley Parkway/Interstate 15 interchange project. The second phase won’t actually make any progress on the interchange itself – it will be years before that happens – but it will add a collector/distributor lane system on I-15 north of Winchester to the I-215 interchange, which is expected to ease problems with traffic cutting across lanes before the freeway split. The collector/distributor system is set to go out to bids in 2020 and begin construction in 2021.

Butterfield Stage Road widening

Construction started in July 2019 to widen Butterfield Stage Road to four lanes north of Rancho California Road in eastern Temecula. Crews had to dig into the side of a hill to create space for the additional lanes; a vertical retaining wall is now in place on the hillside and construction should be completed by this spring, according to Temecula Public Works Director Pat Thomas. Riverside County is also a partner in the project, with plans to widen Rancho California Road to four lanes just east of its intersection with Butterfield Stage Road.

Scott Road interchange

Traffic relief is coming to the south end of Menifee in the form of the expanded Scott Road interchange, which will add new loop on-ramps and create additional lanes over the freeway. A 55-hour closure of Scott Road took place in October to shift traffic from the old bridge to the new, wider bridge and the new northbound on-ramp and southbound off-ramp are now open. The remaining new loop ramps are now being constructed, and the entire project is expected to be complete by summer 2020.

Railroad Canyon Road

The final portion of funding required to start construction on upgrades to the Railroad Canyon Road/Interstate 15 interchange in Lake Elsinore is finally in place, and ground is expected to be broken on the project this spring, according to local officials. Railroad Canyon Road was already widened to three lanes in each direction east of I-15, a project that was completed in June 2019. The California Transportation Commission approved $17.9 million in state funds Dec. 9, making up the balance needed to fully fund the approximately $45 million construction project, according to the Riverside County Transportation Commission. The project will add lanes on Railroad Canyon Road underneath I-15, add exit lanes on the freeway and move northbound on- and off-ramps to Grape Street. It will also add a new interchange at Franklin Street just north of Railroad Canyon.

“We are hoping to break ground in April and total construction time would be about two and a half years,” Lake Elsinore City Councilmember Bob Magee told Valley News by telephone Dec. 12. “And yesterday at RCTC we approved a project management contract and approval for final design.” 

Will Fritz can be reached by email at wfritz@reedermedia.com.