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Widened freeway through Inland Empire opens

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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. (AP) — Transportation officials and motorists are celebrating the end of a massive project to widen a freeway through inland Southern California.

Drivers coped with traffic jams and detours for seven years as crews worked to widen Interstate 215 through San Bernardino by adding a carpool lane and a new lane in each direction on a 7.5-mile stretch of road.

Elected officials hoped the expanded freeway will bring new business to the bankrupt city.

“It will help bring mobility and create a positive impression for people coming to and through the city of San Bernardino,” San Bernardino Mayor Pat Morris said Friday during the unveiling of the final piece of the widening project.

The $647 million project was funded through a mix of a local sales tax measure, state bond money and federal stimulus funds, the Riverside Press-Enterprise reported.

The project was built in four phases and included the construction of new freeway bridges, connectors and ramps.

Linda Sutherland, who owns a costume shop near the freeway, said customers had a tough time getting to her business during the construction.

“I’ve had people say, ‘It’s not worth the hassle,'” she told the newspaper. “Now the freeway is very efficient. I’m excited.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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