Drivers crossing the Cajon Pass between Southern California cities and Las Vegas will encounter a new and major bottleneck for the next few months, as a pavement replacement project moved into a new phase on Saturday.
One lane in each direction of the eight-lane freeway will be remain closed on Interstate 15 at the top of the pass. Moreover, southbound traffic will be split, with one lane detoured into a chute on the northbound freeway for more than a mile, Caltrans officials said.
A 60 mile per hour speed limit will be imposed in the “crossover lane” section as well.
Last summer, the state had a series of weekend lane closures that snarled weekend traffic over Cajon Pass. Interstate 15 is one of only four major north-south freeways linking California’s central and southern regions.
But those closures left four lanes open in each direction during most weekday hours, when heavy commuter traffic is on Interstate 15 between the burgeoning Apple Valley and the Inland Empire. This closure, however, will be 24/7 and thus will affect weekday commuters.
Drivers heading towards Las Vegas from Los Angeles, Riverside or San Diego will encounter lane closures at the top of the steep Cajon Pass, while traffic heading out of Nevada will see one of the four lanes closed, and one of the three remaining lanes split off to the left, at Oak Hill Road.
Motorists seeking to bypass the expected congestion can use Interstate 5 and routes 14 and 138 through Newhall Pass and Palmdale, or the narrow desert roads through Yucca Valley between Interstate 15 and the Coachella Valley.