An approximately $50 million project that will connect Pine Avenue from the 71 Freeway to Euclid Avenue and has been in the works for more than a decade is garnering attention because of its potential impact on southern Chino Hills.
As part of the extension project, a new road will be built connecting Pine Avenue west from El Prado Road to the 71 Freeway in Chino Hills.
The new extension of Pine Avenue will include the construction of a 500-foot long bridge over the Chino Creek and Cypress Channel.
Construction could begin by 2022.
Some Chino Hills residents are concerned that the new Pine Avenue will push more traffic onto the already congested 71 Freeway and Butterfield Ranch Road.
They are also concerned that Riverside County residents will circumvent the 91 Freeway and take side streets to the 71 Freeway, dumping that traffic into Chino Hills and onto Carbon Canyon Road.
The currently unused intersection of Pine with Pomona Rincon Road/Fairfield Ranch Road would also be constructed as part of the work effort.
The existing Pine Avenue from El Prado Road east to Euclid Avenue will be widened.
The City of Chino Hills issued a support letter to the City of Chino, which is the lead agency, stating that the connection is important because of the significant commercial, industrial and residential growth in this juncture.
Chino Hills has identified $4.2 million in its fiscal year 2023-24 capital improvement program from development impact fees and Measure I funding, said city manager Ben Montgomery.
Chino Hills resident Julie Trevino, who lives in Fairfield Ranch, said expanding Pine to the 71 Freeway to make it a major transportation corridor makes no sense.
“How in the world can a freeway that is already terribly congested handle more traffic,” she said.
Chino Hills resident Brian Heider, who lives in Butterfield Ranch, said a support letter from the City of Chino Hills signed by then mayor Ray Marquez in 2017 stated that the project will begin the process of “developing Pine Avenue into a major east-west transportation and freight corridor between the 71 Freeway and Interstate 15.”
Mr. Heider circulated the letter and other documents related to the project on a Chino Hills social media site this week, asking for input and received more than 115 comments.
Most of the comments were against the new road but some supported it, stating that it will alleviate traffic because of the boom in Eastvale, Ontario and Chino that will worsen Soquel Canyon Parkway and Butterfield Ranch Road if Pine is not extended.
Councilman Ray Marquez said between 10,000 and 12,000 new homes will be built in The Preserve and College Park in Chino, and up to 50,000 homes will be built in Ontario, north of Merrill Avenue.
“Are we supposed to put our heads in the sand and do nothing?” said Councilman Marquez. “If we keep our blinders on, things will get worse.”
He said in a perfect world, the 71 Freeway would get widened first.
“We’ve had the 71/91 problem for 20 years, but we have no control over it because it’s in Riverside County,” he said. “We have more control over Pine because we can get federal funds and move it forward.”
Councilman Brian Johsz agreed that tens of thousands of new homes will be built outside the city and new warehouses are bringing hundreds of trucks daily on the 71 Freeway.
“This is a regional issue and any extension should be considered in conjunction with expanding the 71 and improving the connection to the 91,” he said.
Mr. Johsz said there are a lot of unknowns for Chino Hills that could be positive, negative or both. “That is why we need to further study the impacts,” he said. “We need to know how much traffic would be added to our streets or how it would be redistributed among the other freeway ramps,” he said.
Mr. Heider met with Councilman Marquez, Mayor Cynthia Moran and City Manager Mr. Montgomery Wednesday to discuss the project. He said he will share the outcome on social media this weekend.