Caltrans maintenance crews were out prepping highways 74 and 243 on Nov. 23 for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day storms.   Photo courtesy of Caltrans District 8

Caltrans gave the following update Tuesday afternoon regarding delays on Highway 74 between Mountain Center and Hemet.  

“The resident engineer advises that the emergency culvert replacement project will continue till September 2020,” wrote Caltrans Public Information Officer Joy M. Schneider in an email. “Every day the contractor open cuts the roadway to remove and replace the culvert pipe. The work hours are 6:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday. There is no weekend work unless there is an emergency.  

“The resident engineer has directed the contractor to keep the delay below 30 minutes. If readers have questions or concerns, they can contact public affairs at 909-383-4631.”

The newspaper reached out to Caltrans after hearing complaints from community members and commuters about delays of up to 45 minutes on Highway 74 between Mountain Center and Hemet due to work being completed. 

Caltrans announced in a press release back in early October and it was reported that “Some of the remaining repairs include final culvert work, drainage and other minor construction related details until further notice.” 

Highways 74 — from Mountain Center to Hemet — and 243 — from Pine Cove to Banning — washed out as a result of the torrential rains on Feb. 14 causing full closures on both highways.

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.