Menifee Director of Public Works Explains Priority Given to Newport Road Interchange

Traffic congestion heading westbound over the Newport Road bridge will be reduced by the new design.

Story updated with additional information at 4:10 p.m.

Editor's note: Menifee 24/7 and City Hall have received many comments and inquiries since our June 6 story about the city's plan for road improvements -- especially the prioritizing of projects designed to alleviate traffic congestion. In an effort to clarify the situation, Director of Public Works and Engineering Don Allison sat down with Menifee 24/7 this week.

As part of the city staff's budget proposal to the Menifee City Council, a capital improvement project listed top priorities for road improvements. All are contingent on additional funding the city is seeking through grants and other revenue sources. The top three projects that were presented to the City Council for consideration, in priority order, are:

-- Reconstruction and expansion of the Interstate 215 interchange at Newport Road
-- Reconstruction and expansion of the 215 interchange at Scott Road
-- Construction of a freeway overpass at Holland Road

These projects are being considered while the city continues to attract additional businesses, including a Wal-Mart planned for Scott Road near Haun Road.

Recognizing the current traffic congestion crossing the freeway at Newport and at Scott and realizing the additional traffic jams that would be caused during construction on these interchanges, many residents are asking the same question:

Why won't the city build the Holland overpass first?

"We all understand Holland is an important project," said Don Allison, Director of Public Works and Engineering for the city. "Ultimately, the city council sets these priorities. It's their decision if they want to change them. But we believe they're concurrent with this plan."

Here's why:

According to Allison, the Newport Road interchange was given top priority by the county long before Menifee became a city. County officials designated it as a regional corridor from east to west. Drivers use this route from Hemet, where it was expanded by county work crews as Domenigoni Parkway, some 20 miles to the west to Lake Elsinore, where it is Railroad Canyon Road. Thousands of vehicles use this important artery every day, encountering one major bottleneck -- at Newport Road and the 215.

Design renderings show the configuration of the proposed Newport on-ramps and off-ramps.

For this reason, Riverside County has been involved in the design and funding of the Newport Road interchange project from the beginning. The Holland Road overpass also was identified by the county as a priority, but it has not yet been given the same priority as a major regional corridor, Allison said.

"A big design team has been working on this," Allison said about the Newport project. "The design project is just about completed. Now we're trying to line up all the financing."

The project already has received $17 million in funding through the state's Total Road Improvement Program (TRIP). In working to acquire the remaining $20 million needed to fund the $37.3 million project, City of Menifee officials have the opportunity to receive financing through other county and regional sources. These include the Transportation Uniform Mitigation Fee (TUMF), which is administered through the Western Riverside Council of Governments (WRCOG); the Regional County Transportation Commission (RCTC); and other state and federal sources.

The TUMF ordinance, approved by the Riverside County Board of Supervisors, generates funding for regional highway improvements by charging a fee to developers of new construction in the area. The Newport interchange qualifies for TUMF funding because it has been identified as a regional transportation project. The Scott Road interchange -- another regional highway project -- also is on track to qualify for TUMF funding.

The proposed Holland Road overpass is also eligible for TUMF funding, Allison said, but that funding has not been pursued at this time. Sources of funding identified so far are low-cost loans and grant opportunities.

"We just have to identify it (TUMF funding for Holland) as something we have to pursue," Allison said. "Even if we started the Holland project today, it would not get built before the Newport project. It would need a preliminary design, environmental report, funding, and acquisition of the right of way."

When the Newport Road bridge was expanded previously, a new section of the bridge was added on the north side of the existing bridge, Currently, the section with the north lanes is slightly higher than the section on the south side, with K rail in the median. Each side has two traffic lanes plus a left-turn lane -- one leading drivers from westbound Newport onto the 215 South on-ramp and the other taking drivers from eastbound Newport onto the 215 North on-ramp.

In the new design, Allison explained, each side would have four through lanes and no left-turn lanes, thus minimizing traffic stops at each end of the bridge. Freeway on-ramps would begin in the outside lane and loop around onto the 215. Motorists heading across the bridge would be stopped at a red light only when drivers coming off the freeway are given a green light to turn left onto Newport.

Looking eastbound on Holland Road at Antelope Road, the Holland overpass would give motorists a clear path over Interstate 215.

Allison said that during construction -- which is expected to begin some time in 2013, if funding needs are met -- two through lanes will be open each way, with one left-turn lane. The older, south portion of the bridge will be removed and the newer portion will be widened, effectively doubling the traffic capacity once completed.

The Scott Road interchange will have a similar design. When funding is acquired and designs completed for the Holland Road overpass, the bridge will extend from Haun Road on the west to Hanover Lane on the east, passing over Antelope Road and "landing" in an area which is now vacant land east of the Cantabria Apartments.

"That grass area is to accomodate earth work as the bridge comes downhill," Allison explained. "That area has been set aside specifically for the Holland project."

That, apparently, is probably two or three years off. Meanwhile, working with county officials, Allison and his staff are intent on seeing the Newport project through to completion as soon as possible.

Coming westbound off the Holland overpass, motorists would return to ground level at Hanover Lane.















17 Comments:

  1. As a Menifee resident, it really doesn't matter to me what the county of Riverside prioritizes for 'county' traffic needs. If the city built the Holland overpass first, then it would allow Menifee residents the option to AVOID the overly congested Newport Rd for basic shopping and school commutes.

    Seems to me, if the county wants to widen Newport, let them do so WITHOUT assistance from Menifee community funds. Is it in Menifee's best interest for the county to bring all the cross traffic from Hemet to the I15 via Newport Rd? Seems to me they caused all the congestion and building a Holland overpass should be considered and funded as part of the Newport project.

    Menifee residents NEED the Holland overpass FIRST, just to survive the county's development of Newport Rd as a major artery!

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  2. The city council members must not live on the Eastern side of the 215!!! The Holland overpass is needed first before any construction begins on the Newport or Scott bridges.

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  3. I agree! The Holland overpass should be number 1 on the list! It takes me for-ev-errrr just to get from my house by MSJC to Target. I dread going over there. Plus, all of my kids will be at the new Santa Rosa Charter school when that opens and I will have to cross that freeway several times a day. The Holland overpass would really help get rid of all of that traffic off Newport & Scott and then Hemet residents could go about their day without the traffic! But... who listens to the residents?? What do we know.

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  4. We have lived in Country Gardens tract since 1990. When we bought here in late 1989 we were told that an overpass was scheduled to be built at Holland....still waiting. Hope they get a clue and see the wisdom of building it before starting Scott and Newport reconstruction but that probably won't happen and it will be easier to go south to Murrieta and Temecula to spend my money than to try to get to shops in Menifee!

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  5. It would not make any differences on whats done first.Menifee needs to fix the problems with all the roads in the city It take's 7 months to do nothing take Newport Rd.by Canyon Lake one lane each way and still is not done yet to put up some walls curbs and sidewalks and I have not even said anything about the other B.S. road projects that Menifee does.Yes all the road work needs to be done put not at the same time??

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  6. Holland Road is a priority. It just takes a lo-o-ng time to get a project ready and funded. Blame the State and CalTrans, not the County or the City, Newport and Scott have been in the works for over 5 years!

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  7. It's all about money people... once the Newport and Scott Rd overpasses are complete, then traffic will be much better overall; many people will stop talking about the need for the Holland overpass; and the idea will slowly fade away. The pain we will all endure during the construction is not going to be taken into consideration if there is a good chance the Holland overpass can be put on the shelf... again.

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  8. I agree. It's much easier to go south to Murrieta and Temecula. If the city wants our tax dollars to stay local they need to build a bridge soon.

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  9. If the city does not see the big problem with on Newport Road as the primary route we the residents of Menifee are at a loss, we need additional exits at Holland and other avenues first to eleviate traffic flow problems first.

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  10. An ambitious person could probably do very well if they built a nice restaurant bar on the East side of the 215 away from the shopping center, just so we didn't have to cross over the freeway..Maybe then the City will see the importance of patrons living on the East side.

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  11. I agree Newport Rd should be first. I live on the east side and dread driving over to the shopping center because I sit thru so many green lights. The traffic is horrible and is causing so many accidents. Needs to be started asap.

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  12. Thanks 24/7 for the latest update on road improvements planned here in Menifee.
    I know we waited a long time for a shopping center so another year or two wait should not be that bad for all the road improvements.
    Keep up the good work 24/7.

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  13. Correction to my above comment, I meant that the Holland Rd. overpass should be first.
    I agree with others here as well on the tax issue. It is quicker for me to drive all the way down Antelope and circle around over the new bridge in Murrieta and shop at the Target Center down there. I can actually drive down there and pick up a few items and drive back home faster than I can get over the bridge at either Scott or Newport to Target.
    Murrieta at least listened to their residents and put in the bridge just north of Clinton Keith BEFORE they did the bridge construction on Clinton Keith.
    This is not rocket science and even some CalTrans workers that I know agree that the overpass at Holland should take priority. But of course, we are not the ones wearing the suits getting paid the big bucks to make decisions that affect the little people!!

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  14. I think there is a typo in the article....in the paragraph that starts with "In the new design..." the last sentence says, "given a green light to turn left onto Holland". I think that should read Newport. Holland is not going to have freeway access from what I've heard. It will be an overpass like Overland in Temecula.

    I think that Newport should probably be done first because that is further along in the planning. If they haven't done all of the studies (environmental, engineering, etc...) on the Holland overpass it will take too long. Not to mention the $ part of this. In this economy how can they do both?

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  15. Looking at the design plans it looks good. However, it still does not address the significantly higher traffic flow that just goes over the bridge. These plans only address the on/off ramps. Visual observance of the traffic at various times of the day and night it is obvious that at least 75% of the traffic going over the bridge in either direction is NOT entering and exiting the freeway!!
    Something, like an overpass at Holland is what is needed to eliminate the traffic problems.

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  16. Temecula was smart in this regard in the late 80's and early 90's when they had the same issues. The city spent the money to put in the Overland overpass to serve its own residents and waited for the county to do the improvements to Rancho California Road and Winchester Road. Menifee should follow their lead and do the same for its own populace.

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  17. Well, now add that Perris Union High School District, wants our kids to walk across Scott Rd to get to Paloma High School. Can we sue the District, County of Riverside, and City of Menifee for this if any of our kids gets accidentally killed by a stupid driver? We don't even have enough sidewalks or high fences over the freeway overpass to protect our kids. What's next, build a Walmart on Haun Rd, so that Construction vehicles can run over our kids while they walk. Got love our City Councils folks and school districts for thinking about our kids. Really, keep taxing us for more money and where is it really going??? Answer: Lining their pockets or friends pockets. People use the brains that God gave you and think. Make better decisions now, before its too late!!!

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