For commuters on Highway 74 between Garner Valley and Idyllwild, the next six months will have potential traffic delays, seven days a week and 24 hours a day, because of the replacement of Hurkey Creek Bridge. During heavy traffic days and times, those delays could be up to 15 minutes in each direction.
The bridge, built in 1930, is currently the narrowest point on Highway 74 and is not suited to the higher speed and larger vehicular traffic of today.
Caltrans District 8 considered constructing a bypass that would permit constructing both lanes of the bridge at one time, but decided against that last month. The original plan, which is again in place, was to replace one lane of the bridge at a time — hence the need to have controlled, one-way traffic for the duration of the project currently scheduled for completion in January 2016.
Caltrans Public Information Officer Tyeisha Prunty said solar-powered traffic lights on each end of the bridge approach will be installed the weekend of June 20 and will likely be activated when construction begins the week of June 29. The activation date is a “soft” one at this point because of concerns over nesting birds in the construction area that investigative crews are now checking. If those concerns are born out, Prunty said construction could be delayed significantly.
“Emergency vehicle traffic would, of course, take precedence,” said Prunty.