Interstate 15 Traffic Crisis
Interstate 15/French Valley Parkway Improvements–Phase 2 Project INFRA Grant Application, if approved, will help fix the Federal Highway Interstate 15 Traffic Crisis
On March 4, 2019, the City of Temecula submitted an application for the 2019 Infrastructure for Rebuilding America Grant Program Round Two (INFRA Grant) to the US Department of Transportation, titled, Interstate 15/French Valley Parkway Improvements–Phase 2 (“Project”).
So far, twenty-seven different organizations, governments and agencies at the regional, state and national level, including the United States Department of Defense, have submitted letters that summarize impacts this INFRA Grant will address. This INFRA GRANT will address the Interstate 15 traffic crisis, improve national security and public safety concerns, as well as freight and commerce transport costs.
Project Features and WHY it will help the I-15 Traffic Crisis
Construct two northbound mainline Interstate 15 lanes, approximately 2.5 miles long, referred to as Collector/Distributor lanes along Interstate 15 from the Interstate-15/215 Junction to State Route 79/Winchester Road, plus a flyover bridge. The 2019 INFRA Grant Funding will help correct the specific choke-point on Interstate 15 (at the 215 Junction) where weaving occurs as drivers choose between I-15 and 215 at the same time as vehicles are merging from State Route 79 onto Interstate 15 and also choosing between I-15 and 215. This causes daily congestion that backs up northbound traffic between the I-15/215 Junction in Riverside County and into San Diego County; at times up to 20+ miles long.
The Project is depicted in BLUE within the illustration below. Phase 1 in RED is constructed. Phase 3 in GREEN is next.
Freight and Commerce Concern:
The Project will specifically address the Nation’s 4th worst congested hotspot in the United States in terms of economic cost! INRIX Research, 2017 Report, U.S. Traffic Hotspots: Measuring the Impact of Congestion in the United States.
A mandatory Commercial Truck Weigh Station Facility is located in the center of this traffic crisis on Interstate 15. This is a major and essential corridor of freight, commerce, trade, tourism, and commuter traffic.
Photo below demonstrates the long line of freight trucks.
Average of 1.73 accidents EVERY SINGLE DAY (from 7 mile stretch of San Diego/Riverside County Line to Interstate 15/215 Junction over three years 2015, 2016, 2017), resulting in fatal, fatal plus injury and total accidents higher than statewide average. (State of California, Department of Transportation Letter dated March 4, 2019.)
U.S. Department of Defense, United States Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton [Camp Pendleton is the largest Marine Corps base in the world employing 40,000 Marines, 4,000 Navy and 5,000 civilians. ]
The U.S. Department of Defense, United States Marine Corps, Camp Pendleton submitted a letter dated February 26, 2019 to Honorable Elaine Chao, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The letter summarizes how this Project can make a difference to the lives of our Service Members and reduce transit times of [military] operational units movement on Interstate 15.
- The Project will impact the federal workforce and improve the quality of life of military service members and their families; allow military service members more time with their families helping to enhance readiness considering the ongoing deployment cycles.
- The project will reduce transit times of operational units movement on Interstate 15 to other installations such as 29 Palms. (Note photo below: This segment of Interstate 15 serves as major corridor of units to and between Camp Pendleton and other military installations.)
- The Department of Defense USMC Camp Pendleton letter notes the direct impact on service members, employees and [military] units on Interstate 15 and is thus optimistic the City of Temecula’s INFRA 2019 application will receive favorable consideration.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection checkpoint at Temecula.
The checkpoint at Temecula is located on Interstate 15, at the heart of this Federal Highway Interstate 15 traffic crisis. The U.S. Customs and Border Protection submitted a letter dated March 7, 2019 to Honorable Elaine Chao, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, indicate that improvements to this multi-state corridor will not only aid commuters and visitors, but will aid Border Patrol as they intercept illicit activity and protect the Nation.
- The I-15 Border Patrol Checkpoint at Temecula is one of the most traveled roadways in the United States and is a major conduit for the transportation of illegal drugs, contraband, human trafficking, smugglers, potential terrorists and illicit goods.
- The international border crossing in San Diego (San Ysidro) has the greatest volume of flow of humans at any international crossing in the entire world. From there, the I-15 Border Patrol Checkpoint at Temecula is among the largest ingress routes of illicit goods in the country into the United States AND the last line of defense.
- Heavy traffic impedes the Border Patrol's ability to safely conduct vehicle stops and to provide emergency response or back-up to law enforcement and first responders along I-15.
- See photo below of typical traffic congestion every day/night that passes the Border Patrol Checkpoint at Temecula. The I-15/215 Junction is only 7.5 miles from this border patrol sub-station and it takes 40 minutes! ALSO, at this point, one has driven more than halfway through the Interstate 15 congestion. Traffic backs up 20+ miles between the I-15/215 Junction in Riverside County and into San Diego County due to traffic weaving and merging at the I-15/215 Junction. NOTE: This traffic has nothing to do with Border Patrol Officers stopping vehicles as the “checking/waiving-through” of vehicles at this I-15 checkpoint no longer occurs: it is unsafe due to overwhelming traffic congestion.
As a division of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and the federal law enforcement agency responsible for maintaining the physical security of our national borders, the Temecula Border Patrol along Interstate 15 is amidst a traffic crisis that needs an immediate solution.
Federally Recognized Tribal Governments are Among Small Rural Communities Impacted by Interstate 15:
Interstate-15 Traffic is now diverting directly through Pala Reservation, and adjacent Pechanga Reservation by I-15 travelers attempting to avoid the traffic congestion. This situation is dangerous for pedestrians and vehicles along narrow, windy rural backroads with notable concerns about emissions/air pollution from stop-and-go traffic.
The Project costs $110 million. The City has successfully secured $60 million, including $47.6 million from the State Funds. URGENT: If Temecula is not awarded the $50 million INFRA Grant, the State $47.6 million Funds are at risk. Therefore the Project is at risk, despite being shovel ready for construction in 2020. We urgently need INFRA Grant approval from the U.S. Department of Transportation
NOTE: The City does not have jurisdiction over Federal Highway Interstate 15 or control State and Federal funding for it; but has taken the lead to work very hard in collaboration with our state, regional, and local partners to secure funds and design this Project. The Project WILL help fix this Federal Highway Interstate 15 Traffic crisis and it is ready for construction. We just need Federal INFRA Grant approval.
If you have questions about information contained on this webpage, contact Betsy Lowrey, Senior Management Analyst, City of Temecula, at 951-693-3959.