Some really good news came out of the Caltrans community meeting last Tuesday night, Oct. 29, at Idyllwild School that was coordinated by Mountain Disaster Preparedness. There is now full access to Hemet and Banning from Idyllwild.
Public and Media Affairs Chief for Caltrans District 8 Terri Kasinga announced that Highway 243 would reopen by 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1. However, Kasinga told the crowd that the highway could reopen as soon as Thursday. The highway did reopen on Friday.
There will be some flagging. In a press release issued Nov. 1, Caltrans wrote: “striping and recessed markers will be installed beginning Nov. 4 with flagging for about one week.”
Flagging will take place Monday through Friday from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. at various locations for the work, according to the press release.
In addition to the striping and installation of recessed markers, tree removal also began Nov. 1. The work 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 journey since Feb. 14
The roads washed out as a result of the torrential rains on Feb. 14 causing full closures on both Highway 74 — from Mountain Center to Hemet — and Highway 243 — from Pine Cove to Banning. For a couple of months, commuters had one option in and out of Idyllwild: Highway 74 through Mountain Center to Garner Valley.
On April 20, Caltrans reopened Highway 74 from Mountain Center to Hemet giving commuters some relief. However, the hours were very limited and vehicles were escorted by pilot car.
On Aug. 30, Caltrans allowed commuters 24-hour access with the pilot car and Highway 74 fully reopened Oct. 3 with flagging operations only.
There was a full closure on Highway 243 from Feb. 14 to Nov. 1.