State and county officials will hold a meeting in Idyllwild later this month to provide residents a report on efforts to repair and fully re-open state Routes 74 and 243, which suffered extensive damage during the Valentine’s Day storm series.
Staff from Caltrans District 8 will join California Highway Patrol officers, Riverside County Supervisor Chuck Washington, county transportation officials and engineers from Burnsville, Minnesota-based Ames Construction Inc. to share details about new target dates for completing repairs and fully re-opening the corridors.
The meeting is set for 6 p.m. on June 13 at the Idyllwild School, 26700 Highway 243.
Officials are expected to spotlight to what extent last month’s rains set back the timetable for finishing the emergency projects, which Caltrans had earlier predicted would be wrapped up by mid summer.
A 15-mile segment of Highway 74 between Hemet and Mountain Center was shut down on the night of Feb. 14 after torrential rains caused the two-lane artery to collapse in several places.
That same night, most of Route 243 was closed to everything except residential traffic between Mountain Center and Idyllwild, while the entire highway was closed from Idyllwild to Banning after portions washed out, and an entire section just above Lake Fulmor gave way.
Caltrans counted more than two dozen points along the 243 that required repairs, while 40 spots on Highway 74 needed attention, the worst being the Strawberry Creek crossing three miles west of Mountain Center, where the roadway caved in and disappeared.
Beginning in mid-March, sufficient space was repaired on the 74 to permit traffic on the highway, traveling under escort and at a maximum 25 mph, during a few hours each morning and night. The hours of operation were expanded in May, though pilot vehicles continue to guide motorists along the damaged half of the route.
Between Mountain Center and Lake Fulmor, all of Highway 243 is available to commuters, day or night. However, the northern half of the mountain highway remains largely inaccessible due to the ongoing reconstruction work, according to officials.
The emergency repair projects are costing the state close to $10 million.
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