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Truck lanes on 60 Freeway through Badlands to open on Friday

Truck lanes that safely separate big rigs from other vehicles going through the Badlands between Beaumont and Moreno Valley will open on both sides of the Moreno Valley (60) Freeway on Friday, following nearly three years of work that involved a series of upgrades.

Construction on the $138 million "State Route 60 Truck Lanes Project" started in June 2019 and was years in the planning phase prior to that time.

The heart of the project has been the addition of one eastbound lane and one westbound lane dedicated to truck traffic on the corridor, expanding it from four to six lanes through the narrow passage, spanning almost five miles where no frontage roads are available, according to the Riverside County Transportation Commission.  

The new lanes have been completed in stages, and truckers have been able to use segments as they were established. However, the entire length of the Badlands additions will not be ready for use until Friday afternoon, officials said.

"Built next to the outer shoulders in both directions of state Route 60, the truck lanes separate slower-moving big rigs from passenger vehicles that can use the two left lanes in both directions,'' according to an RCTC statement.  

The freeway twists and turns over barren hillsides in the passage, where numerous traffic accidents have occurred, some of them deadly, over the last several decades.

A single collision on either side of the stretch has been known to tie up traffic for hours, forcing the California Highway Patrol to divert motorists back into Beaumont or Moreno Valley, depending on which way they're headed.

In addition to the truck lanes, crews flattened several of the most curvy road sections to improve motorists' visibility and widened freeway shoulders to 12 feet along the outside lanes and 11 feet on the inside lanes, adjacent to the center divider.

"The wider shoulders and open space provide safe pullout areas for motorists and emergency responders," according to RCTC. "Animals have a safer way to cross the 60, as well, thanks to the construction of two 20-foot by 20-foot by 200-foot wildlife crossings, and extension of culverts that allow
coyotes, bobcats, mountain lions, deer and other animals to travel beneath the highway to seek food and mates. The crossings also help prevent collisions between motorists and animals."  

Fencing was installed on both sides of the freeway to deter animal incursions.

The work required multiple complete shutdowns during nights and weekends on the Badlands segment of the freeway for workers' and motorists' safety, requiring detours. Nightly lane closures additionally have been routinely implemented.

About 1,400 construction workers were involved in the project, which was finished months ahead of schedule, officials said.   

It was funded by Measure A county sales taxes, as well as federal and state grants.

Some tune-up work and finishing touches will be applied in the coming weeks, necessitating periodic lane closures, mostly overnight, according to RCTC.

More information is available at www.rctc.org/60trucklanes.

City News Service

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