I-15/French Valley Parkway Phases 1 & 2 Caltrans EA’s 43271 / 43272

The French Valley Parkway project was originally PIP’d in 1996 and the PSR was approved in 2007.  PA/ED phase for both projects was approved in 2010 and Design immediately proceeded with Phase 1, which consisted of constructing a new SB offramp at French Valley Parkway and widening of the existing SB offramp at Winchester Rd.  PS&E for Phase 1 was completed in August 2011 with the help of the Southstar Project Manager at Caltrans, Jason Bennecke, who was the designated Project Manager for the project between Spring 2011 and now, the beginning of the construction phase of work.  The scope of work for Phase 2 involves constructing the remainder of a new French Valley Parkway (FVP) Interchange (IC) in the City of Temecula (City) on Interstate (I)-15 between the Winchester Road IC and the I-15/I-215 junction. Specifically, this projects consists of constructing a six-lane arterial from Jefferson Street to Ynez Road, connecting ramps, northbound (NB) and southbound (SB) auxiliary (AUX) lanes, collector/distributor lanes (3 NB & 3 SB), and related drainage improvements.

The purpose of these projects with a combined total cost estimate of nearly $180 million is to accommodate increased traffic, reduce traffic congestion, improve traffic safety, improve reliability of goods movement, and reduce people/goods movement conflicts.  Construction officially began in March 2012 when the contract for Phase 1 was awarded to the low bidder. Construction of Phase 1 is expected to be completed by Fall of 2013.  PS&E for Phase 2 is underway, the first kick-off PDT meeting was coordinated by the Southstar Project Manager and held in February 2012.  Phase 2 is expected to RTL in Fall of 2014, with a construction duration of about 2-1/2 years.

The CEQA and NEPA environmental documents (IS/EA) were finalized for the parent project (EA 43270) in December 2009.  Stakeholders included California Highway Patrol (CHP), FHWA, Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC), City of Temecula, City of Murrieta, California Department of Transportation (Caltrans)  Sample issues effecting the project included:

•    High Profile Project – Phase 2 of this work is on FHWA’s High Profile Project list and as such, FHWA has full oversight responsibilities for the design and construction efforts.  With the splitting of the project from the parent EA, close coordination is and was required with FHWA and Caltrans staff and this task work is being handled by the Southstar representative.
•    Geometric Approval Drawings (GAD’s)  – There was an error on the original approved GAD’s in 2006.  The error was that the GAD’s graphically showed 3 lanes in the SB direction over I-15, but  the Traffic Impact Analysis (TIA) indicated four (4) lanes and levels of service (LOS’s) B and C for am/pm peak hour volumes (PHV’s).  In the amended TIA approved in 2008, the number of lanes in the report was corrected to three, so it was consistent with the graphic depiction, but the LOS’s were now “F”.  This City was adamantly opposed to redoing the GAD’s, so close coordination by the Southstar Project Manager with RCTC (lead agency on the adjacent widening project on I-215, EA 0F163), the City of Temecula, their respective consultants, Caltrans design oversight and Caltrans Planning was required to effectively deal with this issue.

Caltrans District 8
Jamal Elsaleh, PE, PMP