Interstate 215 provides access to the fast-growing communities of the Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties). The commuter freeway joins a number of cities including Murrieta, Menifee and Perris with March Air Reserve Base and Moreno Valley south of Riverside. A 4.5 mile section coincides with California 60 (Moreno Valley Freeway) northwest to the end of the Riverside Freeway (California 91).
Turning northeast from California 60 and 91, I-215 continues to Grand Terrace and San Bernardino, where it meets I-10. Passing west of Downtown San Bernardino, I-215 begins a gradual westerly shift to Devore and the merge with I-15 south of Cajon Pass.
Interstate 215 in California was originally U.S. 395 between Murrieta and San Bernardino. Signed as Interstate 15E in the 1970s, Interstate 215 was completed by the 1990s. California 215 along the non-freeway (expressway) sections was eliminated with the completion of the freeway between California 60 and California 74.
The long standing bottleneck along Interstate 215 at the late 1950s-era cloverleaf interchange joining the freeway with SR 60 west and SR 91 south in Riverside was addressed with a $317 million upgrade underway from 2004 to 2008. Reconstruction widened five miles of freeway and replaced the loop ramps previously joining I-215 north with SR 91 south and the I-215 southbound mainline movement onto SR 60 east. 11 bridges were built, with the tallest flyover topping out at 90 feet. A half mile section of the SR 91 freeway was raised by 30 feet as well.1
The Interstate 215 Widening Project added a general use and carpool lane to Interstate 215 between I-10 and SR 210, and auxiliary lanes from 5th Street to SR 210 and northbound from SR 210 to University Parkway (Exit 48). The $647 million project also reconstructed all bridges along the 7.5 mile stretch and improved the interchange linking I-215 with SR 210 in San Bernardino. Left exits and entrance ramps were relocated to the right during the January 2007 to 2013 project. The new flyover from I-215 north to SR 210 west opened in December 2011. The connector from SR 210 east to I-215 south followed in July 2012.2
Completed in mid-2016, the $324 million Devore Interchange Project at the north split of I-15/215 added an additional general use lane in each direction, constructed 18 bridges and reconnected Historic Route 66 between Kenwood Avenue and Devore Road / Glen Helen Parkway. Two miles of truck bypass lanes were added in each direction to eliminate slower weaving truck traffic due to the area grades. Associated work improved I-15 north through Cajon Pass at a cost of $121 million. Work at both areas got underway in mid-2013 as design-build projects. It included upgrading local ramp interchanges, and replacing the two outside lanes in each direction of Interstate 15 with new concrete between Kenwood Avenue and a point two miles south of U.S. 395. Additionally provisions were made along the 12-mile stretch for the potential addition of carpool or tolled express lanes.3,4
Southern Terminus - Interstate 15 - Murrieta, California
Perspective from Interstate 15 north
Diagrammatic sign for the wye interchange (Exit 63) with Interstate 215 on I-15 north at California 79 (Winchester Road). Upgraded to full freeway by the 1990s, I-215 follows the original U.S. 395 route through Sun City, Perris, Moreno Valley, Riverside, Colton and San Bernardino. Old U.S. 395 rejoins I-15 near Cajon Pass. Photo taken 07/20/14.
Interchange sequence sign posted 0.75 miles ahead of the I-15/215 separation. Interstate 15 avoids the larger cities of Riverside and San Bernardino, and it is the faster through route to points north of the Inland Empire, such as Barstow and Las Vegas. It passes through Lake Elsinore, then enters the Inland Empire at Corona, passing by the agriculture and industry of Norco, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, and Fontana before converging with I-215 again near Devore. Photo taken 07/20/14.
The control city for Interstate 15 changes from Riverside to Corona/Los Angeles, while Interstate 215 picks up Riverside and San Bernardino. I-15 reduces from four to three lanes at the split with I-215. Northbound I-15 maintains three lanes to Lake Elsinore and four lanes throughout the Inland Empire. Photo taken 07/20/14.
Since Interstate 15 is a more direct route through the Inland Empire, it is the best route to take for destinations in the high desert, Nevada, or beyond. Interstate 215 provides an alternate route, but was historically slower with only four lanes and due to the cloverleaf interchange with SR 60 and SR 91. I-215 also serves travel interests east to Palm Springs via SR 74 east or SR 60 east. Photo taken 07/20/14.
Perspective from Interstate 215 south
The final interchange along Interstate 215 southbound is with Murietta Hot Springs Road. There is no direct connection to I-15 north, and motorists instead are directed along the seven lane arterial to make the movement northwest toward Corona. Photo taken 05/17/05.
Entering the six-ramp parclo interchange (Exit 1) with Murrietta Hot Springs Road on I-215 south. The remaining 1.5 miles of Interstate 215 defaults south onto I-15. Photo taken 05/17/05.
The last confirming shield for Interstate 215 stands at the overpass spanning the I-15 (Temecula Valley Freeway) mainline. Photo taken 05/17/05.
A regulatory sign warns of stopped traffic due to the heavy merge of traffic between Interstate 15, I-215, and California 79 (Winchester Road). Photo taken 05/17/05.
Northern Terminus - Interstate 15 - San Bernardino, California
Perspective from Interstate 215 north
Northbound Interstate 215 at Exit 54A, Devore Road. This exit connects the freeway to the community of Devore, and it also links to Old U.S. 66-91-395. The next exit is a ramp to southbound Interstate 15. Photo taken 02/20/10.
The button copy overhead at Exit 54A for I-15 south was removed by February 2005 and subsequently replaced with a reflective exit number sign. Photo taken 11/14/04.
A lone north Interstate 15 trailblazer indicates that Interstate 215 ends and Interstate 15 resumes. In the past, U.S. 66-91-395 continued north from here up toward Cajon Summit. Photo taken 02/20/10.
Historic Perspective from Interstate 15 north
The final major interchange along I-15 north within the Inland Empire is Exit 123 with Interstate 215 at Devore. In the aftermath of the devastating wildfires from October 2003, Devore made the news as the location of a mudslide that killed several people at a religious camp during a fierce downpour in a storm later that season. Photo taken 01/18/04.
The western extent of the San Bernandino Mountains rise along the north side of Devore as I-15 approaches the directional T interchange (Exit 123) with Interstate 215 (Barstow Freeway) south. Photo taken 01/18/04.
These porcelein button copy signs formerly at the north end of I-215 predated the truncation of U.S. 395 northward. Photo taken 01/18/04.
Perspective from Interstate 15 south
Winding down from the Cajon Summit, Interstate 15 approaches it first freeway interchange since Barstow at Exit 123 with Interstate 215 south to San Bernardino and Riverside. Photo taken 08/14/16.
The Devore Interchange Project finished in 2016 added a truck bypass lane for Interstate 15 south and reconfigured the split so that I-215 departs from the right instead of the left. Photo taken 08/14/16.
Interstate 15 maintains four through lanes at the directional T interchange (Exit 123) with I-215 south. Interstate 215 follows old U.S. 66-91-395 southeast to Downtown San Bernardino, then heads south to Colton, Riverside, Moreno Valley, Perris, Sun City, Murrieta and Temecula. Photo taken 08/14/16.
Interstate 15 south expands to six lanes leading to the separation with I-215 at Exit 123. Through traffic en route to San Diego, Corona, Los Angeles (via SR 210, I-10, or SR 60), or Orange County (via SR 91) is best served by I-15. Photo taken 08/14/16.
The truck bypass lanes partition from Interstate 215 just beyond the gore point at Exit 123. These rejoin I-15 south before the mainline curves southwest across Historic Route 66. Photo taken 08/14/16.
Historic Perspective from Interstate 15 south
Replaced by 2008, the initial guide sign for Interstate 215 was this unique diagrammatic overhead. Photo taken 06/27/04.
Former button copy guide sign preceding the southbound split of Interstates 15 and 215. Photo taken 08/18/13.
Continuing southward to Interstate 215 through Cajon Canyon on I-15 south. This button copy overhead for I-215 was replaced by 2009 as the first to display Exit 123. Photo taken 03/31/08.
The original design for the directional T interchange defaulted traffic onto the continuation of the Barstow Freeway southeast into San Bernandino, with the I-15 mainline exiting to the right with just three lanes. Photo taken 08/18/13.
"Relief is near on 60/91/215 interchange." Los Angeles Times (CA), September 21, 2007.