I-15/Cajalco Road Interchange Caltrans EA 0J610

Because this project was so closely tied to the Mid-County Parkway project, the Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) was the original lead agency for this interchange reconstruction project.  RCTC carried the project through the end of PA/ED with approved CE/CE’s for CEQA and NEPA, which occurred in July 2009.  The City of Corona took over the lead agency role for the remainder of the project, starting with PS&E and R/W.  The Southstar representative at Caltrans, Jason Bennecke, was the designated Project Manager between July 2008 when PA/ED was in full swing with strong pressure from RCTC to finish as quickly as possible.

The purpose of this nearly $66 million project was revealed when the 2035 traffic demand at this interchange was calculated.  It was determined that the existing facilities will not accommodate the projected traffic flow and movements.  The proposed improvements will improve the capacity of the interchange, improve operational efficiency, and improve safety.  Close coordination was required among Local Assistance, the City, and Caltrans HQ to get the two Requests for Authorization (RFA’s) for both PS&E and R/W submitted and approved by HQ, with issuance of the E-76’s in March 2012.  PS&E and R/W phases progressing and construction is scheduled to begin in December 2013.  It is scheduled to open to traffic in 2015.

Stakeholders included the California Highway Patrol (CHP), Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), City of Corona, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans).  Sample issues effecting the project included:

•    Modified Mid-County Parkway Impacts – During the process of obtaining an approval (step 2) of the Modified Access Report (MAR), FHWA noticed that the traffic impacts at the Cajalco interchange would be different without the Mid-County Parkway constructed.  FHWA demanded a supplemental Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) to determine the effects, if any, and if the required notification.  Close and careful coordination between FHWA, RCTC, and Caltrans staff was facilitated by the Southstar representative to ensure the dual finding of acceptability / approval from FHWA was issued in July 2010.
•    E-76’s for PS&E and R/W – Authorization of federal funds was required for the PS&E and R/W phases of work.  One RFA package was submitted to Local Assistance and the Southstar representative coordinated very closely to ensure the E-76’s for both phases were obtained as quickly as possible.  Multiple issues arose during the process.  Numerous questions were answered and the money was ultimately encumbered in March 2012.
•    Geometric Approval Drawings (GAD’s) – GAD’s were approved in 2009, but modifications were necessary due to minor issues with the Mid-County Parkway changes (see above).  Close coordination was required among Design Oversight, FHWA, Planning, and RCTC to ensure that in the end a high quality design was produced as quickly and efficiently as possible.
•    Environmental Clearance/Approval – This project was one of the last CE/CE’s issued for an interchange reconstruction project in District 8.  Although it was ultimately deemed the most appropriate document, all of the same technical studies were done as if it were a mid-level IS/EA environmental document.  This discontinuity created friction between the RCTC consultants and Caltrans Environmental planners, which required careful tact, strategy and negotiations to meet everyone’s needs.

Caltrans District 8
Jamal Elsaleh, PE, PMP