By Caltrans

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) is pleased to announce that Highway 243 will reopen today [Nov. 1] by 6 p.m. between Interstate 10 [Banning] and Idyllwild. The route has been closed since Feb. 14 due to catastrophic damage during a historical storm.

Highway 243 was repaved during the emergency closure with a $10-million paving project, which was previously scheduled before the emergency project. The paving portion is complete. However, the striping and recessed markers will be installed beginning Nov. 4 with flagging for about one week. In addition, tree removal began today and will continue for about one week on Highway 243 from post miles 0 to 3 to remove burnt, dead trees from the Cranston Fire.

The $25-million emergency project — which was initiated a month after the Cranston Fire to upgrade and restore culverts on highways 74 and 243 — began last week and will also require isolated flagging for the next six to nine months to complete the work, weather dependent. The project limits are mostly on Highway 74 between Mountain Center and Lake Hemet and on a small portion of Highway 243. The culvert project also includes dead tree removal and asphalt concrete dikes. Flagging will take place Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. at various locations for the work.

Caltrans thanks the traveling public, mountain communities and businesses for their support and patience during this difficult process following the Cranston Fire.