By Antonio Suarez |Staff Writer|
The reconstruction of Interstate 215 has made the commute for some students unbearable.
In recent months heavy reconstruction efforts have started changing the shape of Interstate 215, and made it impossible for some to get to their destinations on time. There are several portions of the freeway, both northbound and southbound, that have been reduced to two lanes.
“Every morning on my way to school I get stuck on the freeway. It adds 30 minutes to my commute,” said student Elisa Martinez who commutes from Chino and drives northbound on Interstate 215.
Reconstruction of the freeway began in February of 2007. The main goal of the reconstruction is to change the amount of vehicles the freeway can accommodate. This is mainly due to the drastic increase in population the county has experienced since Interstate 215 was first opened in 1959.
Originally, the freeway had three lanes going in each direction. The traffic the interstate received then was able to accommodate the amount vehicles on the road without causing heavy congestion. With too many daily commuters on Interstate 215 (many of which are CSUSB students) the need for the expansion was apparent even before February of 2007.
Now with the greater increase in population that San Bernardino has experienced, this reconstruction is essential to keep the freeways and interstates in this county from becoming parking lots. To gain a better perspective of the situation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of the county in 1960 was approximately 503,591 — today, the approximate population count is over 2 million.
After the reconstruction is complete, the interstate will have five lanes in both the northbound and southbound directions. The average daily traffic is also expected to increase from its last measure of 83,000 drivers in 2003 to an expected 135,000 drivers in 2030 according to San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG).
In addition to the expansion of lanes, the interstate will also have ramps connecting it to the 210 freeway from northbound and southbound directions. The ramps that are currently being constructed are a Interstate 215 northbound merger to the 210 westbound, and a 210 eastbound merger to Interstate 215 southbound.
Once construction is finished, county residents and students can expect less congestion and shorter commutes on the freeway
The length of the reconstruction is 7.5 miles and it is expected to be completed by 2013. The total cost of the project is an estimated $800 million. This project was funded by a series of federal, state and local funds.
Sanbag.ca.gov provides motorists with pictures, videos and updates on any closures or detours that can be expected to ease commuter traffic. They also have a Twitter account that is updated frequently for those that want their traffic news in 140 characters or less.