Corona, CA: Road extension stuck in budget traffic jam (Foothill Westerly)

Fans and foes of the Foothill Parkway westerly extension will have to wait at least another year before the bulldozers arrive to complete the missing link between Skyline Drive and Paseo Grande in Corona.

The $35 million project, envisioned since the mid-1980s, was to begin in the fall of 2009. It was delayed a year, and now construction of the two-mile road is scheduled to begin this fall. Maybe.

Corona still must acquire several acres of right-of-way, according to Clint Herrera, a senior civil engineer and project manager, and two-thirds of the funding has yet to be approved.

Once work begins, he said, construction will take about two years.

Land acquisition has not gone as quickly as expected. Corona Mayor Stan Skipworth explained, "There have been continual negotiations taking place during this time with the intent of always being fair to the property owners. This approach is the right thing to do, but takes more time than opting for other legal means of acquisition."

Funding for the project will come primarily from the Riverside County Transportation Commission. Corona councilmember Karen Spiegel, who represents the city on the commission, is concerned but hopeful that construction will begin by the end of the year. "Funding is holding it up," she said. "RCTC is short on funding, but we're pushing to make it a high priority. Work on the 91 is the top priority in the county, so the (Foothill) funding is out of our control."

So far, she said, the city of Corona has spent about $6 million on planning.

Once completed, the extension is expected to reduce traffic by up to 40 percent on Ontario Avenue, which along with Sixth Street is the city's primary east-west thoroughfare. That's good news for residents along Ontario Avenue, which often is backed up with rush-hour commuters.

But not everyone is happy with the plan, particularly residents on Border and Mangular avenues, which will be connected to the extension and have traffic lights. Some residents still have signs on their front lawns protesting the connections.

"We're communicating with those residents," Herrera said. "We've promised to monitor traffic there after it's done and to mitigate any impact." Traffic studies, he said, indicate that Border and Mangular can accommodate any additional traffic.

Another concern is the likelihood that commuters heading north on I-15 to the westbound 91 freeway will be tempted to use Foothill Parkway to avoid congestion at that interchange. Herrera said studies show that improvements on the 91 will keep drivers on the I-15, adding, "We are aware that with accidents it will encourage commuters to find the easiest way to get around."

Widening the east end of Foothill Parkway, from Bedford Canyon Road to Tamarisk Lane, is a separate project. "Our intent is to have it widened by time the (westerly extension) is completed," Herrera said.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If the residents on Mamgular or Border do not want to connect to this corridor, PLEASE don't connect them, I don't want to have to stop at a light just so they can get onto Foothill - if anything, it will decrease traffic on their streets, but if they don't want to use it, don't force them.

As far as the land aquisition goes, if the property owners aren't cooperating, it's time to claim eminent domain. They're not stealing the property to build a shopping mall, this time they are actually doing some for the public good! (Yes, I'm as shocked as you, when you consider how corrupt the Corona City Council can be - if you don't believe me, look at how they blocked Chase Dr just west of Fullerton Ave because one of their criminal cohorts (a council member) wanted less traffic near his home. And yes, this is a fact.)