Caltrans workers put pedal to the metal

Plan is to work 24-hour shifts until mountain roads are passable

■ Chronicle News Staff

Caltrans maintenance crews were at work this week repairing the highway leading from Hemet to Idyllwild as well as SR 243 up the mountain from Beaumont.
The Idyllwild and Mountain Center communities have been hard hit with a lack of tourism and accessibility since roads washed out during a Feb. 14 storm.
In a recent statement, Caltrans reported that Ames Construction is continuing the $8 million emergency repairs to roadbeds, slopes, culverts, and other areas of both SR 74 and 243.
The contractor is currently working 12-hour shifts to rebuild the routes. With favorable weather conditions and longer daylight hours, workers will begin working 24-hour days to expedite the repairs, according to Caltrans.
The new District 8 Director, Michael D. Beauchamp, said, “Our goal is to make the critical repairs before we can allow safe access to motorists. The safety of the traveling public, Ames Construction, law enforcement, emergency responders and our Caltrans staff are of the utmost importance.”
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. The contractor will continue work to prepare for full access to motorists on SR 74 with flagging conditions in the coming months, the statement said.
Work will also continue simultaneously on SR 243 to provide access between Idyllwild and Lake Fulmor in coming weeks.
Caltrans is working with partner agencies to urge motorists to use the available detours to Idyllwild on SR 74 from Palm Desert, or take SR 79 (to SR 371 to SR 74 to SR 243) from I-15 in Temecula.

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