All of the westbound Moreno Valley (60) Freeway from just west of Beaumont to just east of Moreno Valley will be shut down Thursday evening in preparation for a weekend-long closure of the westbound side of the freeway for construction.

According to the Riverside County Transportation Commission, a roughly 5-mile stretch of the westbound 60 between Jack Rabbit Trail and Gilman Springs Road, in a desolate area known as the Badlands, will be inaccessible beginning at 10 p.m. Wednesday, reopening at 5 a.m. Thursday. Officials said the closure will be repeated during the same hours Thursday evening and Friday morning.

The consecutive night closures are intended to give crews space to position equipment and begin removing boulders from hillsides along the route. Most of the removals, however, will occur during a closure on the westbound 60 in the Badlands from 4 a.m. Saturday to 8 p.m. Sunday, officials said.

No traffic will be able to use that segment of the freeway over the 40-hour span, according to RCTC. One lane on the eastbound side will be available, while one lane will be shut down, officials said.

Westbound travelers are encouraged to use Interstate 10 during the 60 shutdown.

The Badlands work is part of the $138 million State Route 60 Truck Lanes Project, overseen by Skanska USA, which got underway in May and is slated to continue until the end of 2021.

The project entails installing specially designated truck lanes for safety and to reduce congestion through the sparsely populated area, which features steep hills and lacks freeway frontage roads.

A single collision on either side of the narrow four-lane segment has been known to tie up traffic for hours, forcing the California Highway Patrol to divert motorists back into Beaumont or Moreno Valley, depending on which way they’re headed.

In addition to adding a truck lane on each side of the freeway, crews are flattening several of the most curvy road sections to improve motorists’ visibility and widening freeway shoulders to 12 feet along the outside lanes, and 11 feet on the inside lanes, adjacent to the center divider, officials said.

The contract further calls for construction of 23 wildlife crossings beneath the corridor, as well as fencing on either side to prevent animals from straying into traffic.

The project is being funded through Measure A county sales taxes, as well as grants from state and federal sources, RCTC stated.

More information is available at rctc.org/60trucklanes.

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