CREATED Jul. 17, 2013
PALM DESERT - California State Route 74 is known for its scenic desert views and sharp turns, but it's also a road that's in much need of repair.
"There's so much traffic and a lot of trucks, so we get depressions in certain areas," said Public Information Officer for CalTrans, Joy Sepulveda.
CalTrans started a project to improve the highway and make it a less bumpy ride for drivers and motorcyclists.
"It's definitely about safety. We want to make sure that the motoring public has a smooth ride, that there aren't bumps, especially in the windy areas of the Riverside mountains," explained Sepulveda.
Construction crews started the repavement project by adding a thin layer of overlay on to the existing pavement.
"What it does it seals the cracks so that water cannot get in there and make further depressions. It will improve the longevity of the existing pavement as well as make the ride smooth," said Sepulveda.
The repavement starts in Palm Desert on Cahuilla Way and goes up the mountain about 13.5 miles. Also, Hemet is seeing some of this construction work along Highway 74. Many of the Valley's residents have already started seeing some of the changes, like Martin Escudero from La Quinta.
"I think it's a big improvement, when I used to ride it before there were lots of cracks and lots of divets, and I think they're still working on it, and there are some other areas that are a little rough, but the new parts that are paved, they're great, they're really smooth," expressed Escudero.
He rides his motorcycle on the highway about twice a month and says it's always a challenge because of the uneven ground.
"It does take some practice to get on the road on Highway 74 because it's such a windy road, but the rough terrain, I'm really happy that they're getting rid of it," said Escudero.
Escudero thinks the construction couldn't have come at a better time when accidents are prevalent.
According to a spokesperson from the California Highway Patrol, in 2012, there were 149 traffic collisions on this road and 14 of them involved motorcycles. This year, there have been 79 accidents so far and seven involve motorcycles. Escudero hopes these are statistics that the repaving will hopefully prevent in the future.
"It puts a lot of confidence to your vehicle on the road. You definitely feel like you can control the vehicle much more and I think that's key to being safe on the road," said Escudero.
During construction hours, drivers should expect some delays.
"What they'll do with one-way traffic control, they close one lane that they can pave in and so they use the other lane for two and go traffic," explained Sepulveda.
Between 7 p.m. and 5 a.m. is when CalTrans workers are repaving the highway. They will take out the reflectors along the road during these times, so people should pay extra attention when driving. In addition to the repavement, they will also do "dig outs" which will get rid of big potholes and depressions.
"What they'll do is dig out that section and completely replace it so those sections will not just get the overlay, but they will actually get brand, new material," said Sepulveda.
This project on Highway 74 is a safety measure for motorists, but Sepulveda says that it will prevent future lenghty and costly road work.
"As an overlay, it's almost a preventative measure, you know to protect it so that they don't have a bigger issue in the future for our maintenance crews to maintain," said Sepulveda.
The construction is scheduled to finish mid-August. Meanwhile, CalTrans officials suggest to pay attention to the road for any sign closures and construction workers along the highway.