Contractors working on an $8 million project to repair state Routes 74 and 243, both of which were severely damaged during Valentine’s Day flooding, will work around the clock and hope to get one of the routes partially open by May, officials said Wednesday.
Roadbeds, slopes, culverts and other repairs have been completed by Ames Construction crews working in 12-hour shifts, according to Shane Massoud of Caltrans. The contractor will now work 24-hour shifts, weather-permitting, to complete additional repairs.
But, even with the increase in hours, it may be summer before both routes completely reopen.
“In approximately four to six weeks, Caltrans hopes to provide access to motorists on SR 74 under escort for three hours in the morning and three hours in the late afternoon,” according to Caltrans. “The contractor will continue work to prepare for full access to motorists on SR 74 with flagging conditions in the coming months. Work will also continue simultaneously on SR 243 to provide access between Idyllwild and Lake Fulmor in the coming weeks.”
State Route 74 was damaged in more than 40 locations, whereas Route 243 had 25 locations damaged by the flooding, including two with complete road loss, according to Caltrans.
“The Idyllwild and Mountain Center community has been hit hard with lack of tourism and accessibility,” according to Caltrans. “Caltrans is working with partner agencies to urge motorists to use the available detours to Idyllwild on state Route 74 from Palm Desert or on state Route 79.”
The worst of the damage was in the area of Lake Fulmor, between Pine Cove and Banning, where Highway 243 completely collapsed and disappeared amid torrential downpours and mud flows on Feb . 14.
More information about the closures is available at www.dot.ca.gov/d8/index.html .
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