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U.S. Department of Transportation, Office of Public Affairs, Washington, D.C., www.dot.gov/affairs/briefing.htm - News

FHWA 59-11
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
Contact: Doug Hecox
Tel: 202-366-0660

Nation's Top Federal Highway Official Visits San Diego Area's I-15 Express Lanes Project

Project Created Jobs and Will Finish Well Ahead of Schedule

SAN DIEGO – As part of the Obama Administration's efforts to highlight the need for more infrastructure investments, Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez toured the I-15 Express Lanes Project in San Diego today. The $1 billion project will be completed a year ahead of schedule.

"The American Jobs Act will put people back to work on jobs like the I-15 Express lanes here in California and across the nation," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "We will not give up because we know that investing in our infrastructure will help strengthen our economy and create the jobs we need."

Relying on $236 million in federal funds, the four-lane project spans 20 miles between SH 78 in Escondido and SH 163 near Mira Mesa. More than 300,000 San Diego-area drivers rely on the route every day – a figure which is expected to grow to more than 380,000 vehicles per day by 2020.

"The jobs this project created have helped put people to work and strengthened the San Diego-area economy," said Federal Highway Administrator Mendez. "Residents in this area will have more lanes – which means less congestion – a year earlier. We are committed to delivering projects more quickly so people can enjoy the benefits, and this is a great example."

Work on the project is expected to be completed in December and open to traffic in early January. Though construction on the three-segment I-15 Express Lanes project began in 2003, local and state officials began conceptualizing the project in the early 1980s. It makes four lanes available to accommodate the transportation needs of one of America's most steadily growing areas and, using an innovative moveable median barrier, can be reconfigured to accommodate changing traffic volumes.

As part of this project, workers demolished the Pomerado Bridge and rebuilt it within nine months. The new and improved bridge features four lanes, a pedestrian and bicycle path, a signalized intersection at the west end, seismic protections and aesthetic improvements to coordinate with the rest of the I-15 project.

Sixteen miles of express lanes are already open on I-15 to carpoolers, buses and solo drivers willing to pay a fee. The express lanes will give carpoolers and bus riders a free-flowing option and move traffic away from the regular and often gridlocked lanes. Work remaining includes pouring and paving concrete on some sections from Centre City Parkway to 9th Avenue in Escondido.

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