Caltrans District 8 crews begin preparatory work to widen Hurkey Creek Bridge on Highway 74 at 8 a.m. Monday, April 20. Construction will limit traffic to one lane on and in the near vicinity of the bridge for the majority of the one-year project. Construction crews will be active Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Heavy truck traffic will be rerouted because of the very narrow existing bridge expanse. “Truck traffic is advised to use alternate routes due to limited clearance through the construction zone,” said Terry Kasinga, Caltrans District 8 public information officer. She also noted that construction could be interrupted for a winter 2015-16 hiatus should weather conditions so mandate, thereby extending overall time for project completion.

Kasinga advised that motorists could expect average delays of 15 minutes in each direction throughout construction duration. She noted Caltrans will be utilizing solar-powered, traffic-lane control signs during the project.

The affected section of Highway 74 is directly opposite Lake Hemet Campgrounds, from mile marker 62.3 to 62.5. The existing bridge, built in the 1930s, is the narrowest part of Highway 74, with a total width of only 23 feet from side railing to side railing and a current length of 34.1 feet.

The $2.5-million project will widen a bridge deemed too narrow to safely accommodate present-day wide and high-speed vehicles. When completed, the new bridge would nearly double the width and be longer than the existing bridge — 43.5 feet wide and 50 feet long.

Kasinga said crews will begin placing signage and doing preparation work on April 20.

Project plans specify removing the existing span, constructing the new bridge and approaches, regrading and protecting slopes near bridge abutments, constructing four retaining walls and bridge approach railings at sides of the bridge, and applying architectural treatments, including tree planting, to minimize visual and cultural impacts on the area.

Planning for the project began in 2012 and included approval of an environmental document and public meetings. Granite Construction of Vista won the public bid to perform the work.