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I-15 Smart Freeway update given

At the Temecula City Council meeting, Jan. 9, traffic delays were discussed as a continuous problem on northbound Interstate 15. For those returning home to Riverside County, in the afternoon and evening, traveling eight miles can take as long as 45 minutes. Hazards include rear-end collisions and poor air quality from idle vehicles needing to wait for traffic. Frustration has grown within drivers, resulting in the need for faster routes in cities and neighborhoods.

Several years ago with the leadership of past mayor Matt Rahn, the "Move I-15" task force was approved for elected officials to remedy the issues along the I-15 corridor. Coalition discussions led to the creation of a plan that intended to improve traffic operation, safety, and air quality.

The pilot project covers the 8 mile segment, from the San Diego County line, to the split, and also includes the Temecula Parkway and Rancho California Road onramps.

The I-15 freeway is to implement technologies utilized for smart freeways, specifically at ramp meters along the corridor. Sensors and other features will monitor traffic in real time, and the information that is gathered will be relayed back to drivers directly on the road, so that they can make decisions accordingly. It aims to use an adaptive system that will help keep traffic flowing on the highway at a consistent rate.

When implementing this technology, the time savings will vary. But statistics from where smart freeways have been implemented solidify its dependability. Australia has used this system, and seen a 40% travel time reduction during its peak hours, as well as a 30% reduction in collisions. A pilot program in Denver, Colorado, that was applied to their I-25, was so successful that it plans to be implemented on a broader basis.

The I-15 will be the first highway in California to try this concept. Coordinated ramp meters will soon be found at Temecula Parkway, Rancho California, and Winchester. Vehicle detection devices will be placed on the Northbound I-15, and will detect how many cars are on the freeway at a given time. They do not track or record license plates, but detect the number of tires on the road.

Changeable advisory speed limit signs and wider onramps, will each be constructed in coordination with French Valley Parkway. The project aims to be completed by 2027, and put in place after the French Valley interchange opens.

Anne Mayer, executive director of Riverside County Transportation Commission, presented the update on the smart freeway pilot project. For her retirement, after 18 years of dedicated service to the city, she also received a certificate of recognition that evening. During 40 years as a registered civic engineer, Mayer helped to complete many transportation projects that benefited the city's economy, and its quality of life.


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