Free HOV lanes may be replaced with toll lanes

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Riverside County 1st District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries. Photo by Donna Ritchie

According to Riverside County 1st District Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, a proposal has been working its way through the Riverside County Transportation Commission (a separate standalone agency) which is studying the idea of replacing the current free HOV lanes on the 91 through Riverside City with toll lanes.

“This gives me some heartburn,” Jeffries said. “I’ve never liked the concept of toll lanes, but I’ve always had an understanding that when additional freeway lane capacity was badly needed, and the State and/or Feds would not help pay to expand their highways. The only alternative left was to basically take out a loan to build the expansion and then use toll revenues to pay back the loan. A necessary evil of sorts.”

Unlike the 15 Corridor or the new 91 Express Lanes extension in Corona, no new capacity will be built or added to the 91 under this plan. It’s at maximum width.

Jeffries said, “If you are not adding or building any lanes, why do we need to pay tolls to use existing lanes that are already in use? Why do we even need to collect the toll revenue? What is the money going to be used for?”

Although the concept of converting to toll lanes was approved for a study at a recent RCTC committee meeting (nine yes, two no), Jeffries said he will continue to oppose and raise questions as this concept continues to move forward.

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