A ceremonial groundbreaking was held Tuesday for the $52 million Temecula Parkway Ultimate Interchange Project, which is expected to ease congestion, expedite traffic flow and generally improve access to the city via the Interstate 15/state Route 79 interchange.
Construction will get underway later this month and take roughly 18 months to complete, according to city officials.
"This offramp will actually allow people to exit the freeway and not have to stop," said Temecula Mayor Maryann Edwards.
The expansion project entails reconfiguring on- and offramps in the vicinity of Old Town Front Street, widening the existing parkway between Bedford Street and I-15 and adding an auxiliary lane on the southbound side of the freeway at the juncture.
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The cost of construction will run $23.6 million, with "design, acquisition, administration and environmental clearance" making up the remainder of the $52 million total, said Temecula Project Manager Avlin Odviar. The Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians will contribute $14.4 million to the project, Odviar said.
"Our tribe is certainly very proud to have contributed the $14 million for this new interchange project," said Mark Macarro, Tribal Chairman of the Pechanga Band of Luiseno Indians. "We're hopeful that it will make the commute on thousands of families here in the valley a little easier and a little faster."
City officials said that, with the new interchange in place, traffic will move more efficiently, with shorter queues getting on and off the freeway thanks in part to an increased number of turn lanes and one less signalized intersection.
Construction will take place in phases to minimize traffic disruptions.
NBC4's Tony Shin and Rudy Chinchilla contributed to this story.