Riverside County greenlights 10 freeway traffic jam action plan

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Riverside County leaders have approved a plan aimed at preventing monster traffic jams on the 10 Freeway through the Banning Pass.

The Interstate 10 Lifeline Emergency Action Plan calls for the construction of a 3-mile bypass road south of the 10 Freeway between Banning and Cabazon. Caltrans would also extend other roads and install digital message boards to warn motorists of big traffic tie-ups.

The action was triggered by a 20-mile traffic jam in February brought on by a Caltrans construction foul-up. Drivers heading back to the Southland from Las Vegas were stuck on the freeway for hours with no exit.

Riverside County Supervisor John Benoit calls it a debacle.

“I think that was accurate, caused by a delay in getting cement and a full day of closure that was unnecessary but it happened.”

Caltrans blamed the tie-up on a communication breakdown between a road crew and a cement supplier.

The bypass alternatives will take about five years to complete. Benoit says they’re a good start – but they have their own limitations.

“Couple of 90 degree turns, somewhat limited weight carrying capability and 100,000 vehicles a day is a roadway that will not be accommodated by a two-lane alternative road,” says Benoit.

“Because this is a major thoroughfare that is forever presenting these kinds of problems.”

County Supervisor Marion Ashley also suggests extending the freeway emergency plan to the 60 Freeway near Beaumont where it connects with the 10 Freeway in the Banning Pass.