The multi-year project to replace the Hurkey Creek Bridge on Highway 74 in Garner Valley is nearing completion. Caltrans estimates the new bridge will reopen to two-lane traffic in mid to late April, said Joy Schneider, Caltrans public information officer.

Planning to replace the 1930s-era bridge, the narrowest point on Highway 74, began in 2012. Caltrans moved to replace the bridge because it was deemed too narrow for present day use by larger and higher-speed vehicles, according to Shelli Lombardo, Caltrans PIO.

The existing 23-foot wide bridge roadway, from side railing to railing, was widened to 43.5 feet and the bridge was lengthened from 34.1 to 50 feet. Cost for the bridge replacement, retaining walls and landscaping was initially budgeted at $2,237,000.

The bridge was constructed one lane at a time. One-lane traffic through the construction site opposite Lake Hemet Campgrounds began in November 2015. Traffic control was facilitated by a 24/7 traffic light. On average, traffic delays were in the 5- to 10-minute range.

Schneider noted the project’s resident engineer said final elements are in the process of being completed. The last phase of the project, which does not affect the roadway, will involve a year-long monitoring of new landscaping on both sides of the bridge, to ensure healthy establishment of new plantings.

Schneider also noted there will be no pedestrian walkways on the bridge. Lake Hemet campers are advised to transit the affected area within the park, not on the highway or the bridge.