CORONA (CBSLA.com) — Get ready for “Coronageddon,” as the 91 Freeway in Corona was closed for the weekend on Friday night.
A six-mile stretch between Interstate 15 and the 71 Expressway will be shut down from 9 p.m. Friday to 4 a.m. Monday as part of an expansion project to help ease traffic congestion.
Officials anticipate major backups on the 15 and the 71 freeways, as well as on surface streets in Riverside and west Corona.
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Temothy Parsons, who lives just off the Corona Freeway in Riverside, said the 55-hour closure will create traffic jams on local streets when drivers get off the 91 Freeway. “There’s going to be people bypassing all the little streets. It’s going to be busy down our nice little quiet street,” Parsons said. “It’s going to be a mess. All the neighborhoods around here are going to be backed up.”
But employees at Kountry Folks Restaurant on La Sierra Avenue are staffing up and counting on hungry drivers to pull in. “Usually Saturdays and Sundays are pretty busy for us, so probably double that,” said employee Geneisha Sturgeon.
Transportation officials expect a three-to-four-hour delay near the closure. Drivers are being asked to use the 10, 15, 60, 71 and 210 freeways to avoid Coronageddon.
Riverside resident Lucy Jurado said: “I think there’s going to be a lot of traffic, a lot of people that goes to Vegas and Barstow, And people that don’t know the freeway is going to be closed.”
“It’s going definitely to be hell leaving. It’s going to be really really packed. We just have to live with it,” said Riverside resident Vladimir Aguilar.
The Riverside County Transportation Commission, Caltrans and the California Highway Patrol have been promoting the 91 Steer Clear campaign to get drivers to avoid Coronageddon.
The closure is part of the $1.3 billion 91 Project Fast Forward project, which began in 2014 and will be complete in 2017.