The north half of state Route 243 between Banning and Twin Pines was shut down Wednesday after heavy rains compromised one of the mountain highway’s two lanes, but just over four hours later, crews completed repairs, and the corridor was reopened to traffic.
According to Caltrans Public Information Officer Terri Kasinga, shortly after 1 p.m., earthen support for one of the two lanes washed away when rain swept through the area, just south of Banning. The concrete remained intact and did not give way, according to pictures from the scene supplied by Caltrans.
Kasinga told City News Service that by 2:30 p.m., an emergency repair team was on site, fortifying the degraded section of roadway. Although one lane was unaffected, Kasinga said crews had to maneuver dump trucks across the entire highway, so both northbound and southbound lanes had to be closed.
About 5:30 p.m., repairs were completed and the closed lanes reopened.
During the work, California Highway Patrol officers implemented a hard closure just north of Twin Pines, as well as at San Gorgonio Avenue at the south end of Banning. The southern segment of Route 243 between Mountain Center and Idyllwild was not impacted by the winter weather and remained open.
According to Kasinga, the upper part of the highway was fully reopened at the start of the month following a roughly eight-month restoration project.
During a Valentine’s Day storm series that inflicted about $100 million in infrastructure damage throughout Riverside County, a portion of Route 243 near Lake Fulmor completely collapsed, sliding down a mountainside.
The highway was restored at the location under an $8 million emergency repair contract with Burnsville, Minnesota-based Ames Construction Inc.