Country road to get new course

SCHLEISMAN: Plans are under way to widen the artery in the high-growth area, and link it to I-15.

07:07 AM PDT on Wednesday, July 20, 2005

For much of its length, Schleisman Road is a two-lane path through Eastvale's cattle country. But someday, the east-west road will be one of the big boys: A six-lane artery and, more important, a connection to Interstate 15.

Riverside County leaders recently awarded a preliminary engineering contract to Corona-based Aztec Engineering to begin the road's transition. Drivers will still have to wait at least five years until the Schleisman freeway ramps are built, said George Johnson, Riverside County's director of transportation.

"It will be placed just north of the Santa Ana River," he said. "So the difference between the new Schleisman interchange and Limonite will be about a mile."

The proposal is welcome news to locals, who already find the pace of road and school construction lagging behind the rate of population growth.

Eastvale's dairies are increasingly giving way to housing tracts, with the burgeoning traffic volume and freeway-access burden falling on Limonite Avenue.

"The problem is there are too many houses being sold, and the infrastructure -- which the developers are supposed to be taking care of -- is not keeping up," said resident Dan Beavers, who moved to Eastvale in September 2002.

"Let's build the roads first, and then the homes," said Beavers, who owns a printing company in Chino. "Someday we'll all remember this ... as we cruise down our six-lane road."

The county requires that builders improve the roads that border their projects as a condition of approving residential and commercial development. As a result, individual developers are widening portions of Schleisman and other local thoroughfares a bit at a time, Johnson said.

Yet Beavers wondered if the county has purchased all the land it needs -- including a dairy property between Cleveland and Hamner avenues and a nursery property between Hamner and I-15 -- to extend Schleisman to the freeway.

Some things won't change. A local tavern, Al's Corner Cocktails, has anchored the southwest corner of Schleisman and Hamner at least since World War II.

"The realigned Schleisman will avoid Al's Corner," Johnson noted.

It's too early to estimate how much the freeway interchange project will cost the county, but Johnson said developer fees will cover the cost of widening Schleisman. The completed road will stretch about 3.5 miles between I-15 on the east and Hellman Avenue -- the San Bernardino County line -- on the west, Johnson said. Schleisman becomes Pine Avenue when it enters Chino.

In the meantime, the county will fill a longstanding gap in Schleisman between Sumner and Cleveland avenues just north of Eastvale Elementary School, which is under construction at Orange Street and Cleveland Avenue.

Also, the freeways ramps at Limonite will be widened in hopes of alleviating rush-hour backups.

"We're scheduled to start construction (on Limonite) in September and be done by March," Johnson said.

Reach Mary Bender at (951) 893-2103 or