Traffic jam near RCC

By Jordan Ward / Staff Writer

Riverside City College students are encouraged by CalTrans and the college to find other routes to RCC so they can avoid the construction on the 14th Street Bridge on Highway 91. ( CalTrans Robless Media)

By Jordan Ward / Staff Writer

A $232 million construction project on the Highway 91 is anticipated to be a heavy cost for many RCC students trying to get to class. 

The High Occupancy Vehicle lane project calls for statewide reconstruction of Highway 91, with the addition of one high occupancy vehicle lane down its center.

In a report from the Riverside County Transportation Commission, Supervisor and RCTC’s chair John J. Benoit describes the project as a means of eliminating bottleneck traffic through the construction of a state-of-the-art freeway corridor with improved ramps and bridges throughout the entire six-mile span.

After Sept. 15, 14th Street overpass bridge will be reduced from six lanes to two, in order to accommodate in its demolition and eventual reconstruction. In a newsletter sent out by the RCC Admissions Office, one travel lane will be available in each direction; with long-term lane reductions in effect until 2014.

The bridge itself is scheduled for demolition the nights of Sept. 17- 20.  Along with the 14 th Street Bridge, the Ivy Street Bridge, the Cridge Street Bridge, and the Pachappa Railroad Bridge will be demolished and rebuilt as well.

With recent construction to the 91 and surrounding overpasses in downtown Riverside, Shelli Lombardo, CalTrans public information officer, said that time delays will not be considered in student attendance.

“In a meeting with Student Services it sounds like no one will be given any slack,” Lombardo said. “Students will still be expected to arrive on time for their classes.”

She goes on to say that it will take four to five days for traffic to finally smooth out getting on and off the freeway. To facilitate in students being able to arrive on time to class, Shelli advises many to consider taking Central Avenue and Mission Inn Avenue, and has provided maps of alternate routes also.

With no leniency being made on student attendance, opinions vary on whether Student Services have considered the effects construction will have on students trying arrive to class.

“Teachers should accept the fact that we’re going to be late because of construction, “said Jenna Campbell, RCC student athlete. Having to drive into Riverside early in the morning for practice, Jenna’s immediate questions center around why exceptions can’t be made for tardiness.

Others disagree. For Dominique Little John student attendance should be based solely on a student’s initiative on getting to class on time.

“I think that it’s the responsibility of students to arrive on time for their classes, regardless of the construction being done on the freeway,” said Little John. “Exceptions wouldn’t be made if you had to get to work on time, so why should they be made to getting to school?”