The Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians broke ground on its new gas station, Santa Rosa Pit Stop, earlier this month. The station and store are expected to open this spring. 
Photo courtesy of the Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians

Ever been traveling on Highway 74 out to the desert and needed to stop for gas or a snack? Well, that will be possible starting in the spring. The Santa Rosa Band of Cahuilla Indians is building a gas station and convenience store, the Santa Rosa Pit Stop. The station and store will be “about a mile and a half east of Bull Canyon Road on the south side of the highway [Highway 74],” according to a response from the tribe on Facebook about the gas station’s location . 

The newspaper contacted Mayme Modesto, the lead manager for the board of directors for the tribe, about the project.

“The project has been in the works for about 16 months,” wrote Modesto in an email. “The tribe originally had a feasibility study completed six years ago, but due to lack of resources and finances, we had to shelf the project.” The project broke ground earlier this month. 

The project is expected to be completed by the end of March or April, 2020.  The newspaper asked if anything could postpone or speed up the completion of the project. “We anticipate some delays such as weather, but we are confident we will stay on track,” wrote Modesto. 

Modesto would not elaborate on the expected cost of the project, but did confirm that there will be room for expansion. 

“Yes, there is room for expansion,” Modesto responded. “The LLC will plan on building an addition for retail space.”

“I think this is actually a pretty good idea,” said Middle Ridge Winery Tasting Gallery Co-owner Chris Johnston. “There hasn’t been a gas station toward Pinyon [Pines] in a very, very long time. I think that having a modern station and the amenities (market and whatever else may be added) is going to be a benefit to the local folks living around it.” 

The tribe is looking forward to having a positive impact on the community. “Our feasibility study came back positive for not only commuters to and from the desert area, but also the surrounding community,” wrote Modesto. “We hope to provide services to local ranchers that require diesel for their trucks.”

There will be two dedicated diesel dispensers and six gasoline dispensers, according to Modesto.

Will there be an impact on traffic?

“The traffic will be impacted and caution should be taken on these scenic two-lane highways in our mountain community,” wrote Modesto. “We have been working with Caltrans, government-to-government relations, on a design that will be safe for traffic.

“This project will significantly impact the reservation. As the tribe expands, so do our needs and expenses. We will not only be able to make a moderate profit, we will also be able to collect tax revenue that can go directly to our tribal government.”  

Having the additional revenue will allow the tribe to expand its assistance to tribal members. Modesto wrote, “Our reservation has infrastructure expenses as well as basic housing and education needs for our tribal members on and off the reservation. This revenue will certainly help run and expand our tribal government to meet those needs.

“The tribal members who reside on the reservation, such as myself, will be about one mile away from the gas station. There are two tribal members who live directly across the entrance.”