A series of overnight closures are planned for the 215 Freeway (map) that will affect drivers in Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
The "Spring Sting" closures that went into effect this week include both sides of the 215 Freeway, between Barton Road and Iowa Avenue in the community of Grand Terrace. Northbound lanes were closed for two overnight construction projects earlier this week.
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"Tonight's the big night because we are completely closing Interstate 215 between the 60 in Riverside and the 10 in San Bernardino," Terry Kasinga, a Caltrans representative, said Friday morning.
The closures -- partial freeway closures Wednesday and Thursday, full freeway closures Friday and Saturday -- will continue for the remainder of the month as construction crews install multi-ton, 200-foot-long railroad trusses.
Friday's installation includes the first of four bridges. Spring Sting is part of the years-long 215 widening project that is slated to add lanes, ramps, bridges and interchanges to the crowded freeway.
Caltrans began the project last year, and has estimated that it will be completed by summer 2015.
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The stretch of freeway, notoriously called the "405 of the Inland Empire," will be closed in both directions Friday and Saturday night before reopening at about 11:30 the next morning. Lane closures are likely to begin some times before 10:30 p.m. on both days.
The closure affects a 7.5-mile stretch of the road that serves as a bustling thoroughfare for motorists and business owners.
"Where are we going to go?" asked one driver on Friday.
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"We need a solution, we need help," added Ali Yasin, a freeway-side business owner. "We're losing more than $10-15,000 in sales, or more than that, daily."
Caltrans said Spring Sting will include three more installations -- all of which are slated to alleviate traffic congestion in the long run -- and encouraged drivers to stay away from the 215 during April weekends.
To avoid the 215 mess, drivers can either take the 15 Freeway or detours posted near the affected route.
Caltrans' eighth district is firing off updates on its Twitter account, @Caltrans8, to keep travelers in the loop. Look for the hashtag "#215SpringSting" to find tweets with info and pictures of closure updates.