A stretch of Avenue 62 between Highway 111 and state Route 86 in Thermal will be closed beginning Thursday to allow for installation of a new traffic signal and other safety improvements to a nearby intersection.
Crews will break ground Thursday on a $1 million project expected to be completed by the end of July that will convert a four-way stop at the intersection of Highway 111 and Avenue 62 into a signalized intersection, according to the Riverside County Department of Transportation.
The project will also add new crosswalks, street lights, curbs and gutters, with the goal of making the thoroughfare safer.
The first leg of the project will involve Union Pacific Railroad crews installing new railroad track just east of the intersection, said Scott Gibson, the project manager.
Once installed, the traffic signal slated for the intersection adjacent to the tracks will “communicate” with the railroad crossing, which will help reduce traffic congestion, Gibson said.
No new lanes will be added, he said, although the intersection will be widened to make room for the traffic signal.
The project area is along a North American Free Trade Agreement freight corridor, which is expected to continue generating additional truck and train traffic in the coming years, according to Andrea Suarez, a project spokeswoman.
The thoroughfare is used to move goods from the border with Mexico north to Interstate 10, she said.
On average, 35 trains pass through the area every day, with up to 50 between October and December, Suarez said.
Motorists are advised to avoid the area during the project duration.
In May, crews began working on a bridge in Mecca that, once completed, will save motorists time getting into or through the unincorporated community.
The work, which is slated to conclude by the end of 2021, entails building a two-lane bridge that takes vehicles entering or exiting Highway 111 at Fourth Street out of contact with freight trains traveling north and south at the location.
A stretch of Lincoln Street in Mecca between Avenues 66 and 67 is closed to through traffic, and the project remains on track to be completed on scheduled as of Monday, Suarez said.
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