Cement barricades narrow Hwy. 74 through Garner Valley while culverts are being set back for safety reasons. Photo by Barry Zander

An $812,000 project to relocate headwalls on seven box culverts on both sides of Highway 74 in Garner Valley is underway, according to Caltrans Public Affairs Representative Shelli Lombardo. The project will aid in creating a clear recovery zone for motorists should they be forced onto the shoulder.

Caltrans plans to remove existing headwalls constructed in the 1930’s, relocate them approximately ten feet away from the roadway edge and construct new headwalls and wingwalls. Caltrans said the project, propelled by safety concerns due to he headwalls proximity to the highway, has been planned for more than 10 years.

In a draft Initial Study with Proposed Mitigated Negative Declaration, Caltrans stated the purpose of the project on Highway 74, a state designated “scenic highway”, was to “ . . . enhance the safety of the traveling public and upgrade the existing headwalls and culverts to current standards.” Caltrans noted the fatality and injury rate for this stretch of highway is higher than the state average and that the highest number of collisions occurred when vehicles hit an object in the clear recovery zone.

The project began on Dec. 6, 2011 and is projected to conclude, weather permitting, March 27, 2012. The headwalls, when set back, will be up to three feet in height, said Lombardo.

As a result of the ongoing project, cement barricades are in place to protect workers. This may impact traffic times through Garner Valley.