Emergency Projects on State Route 74 and State Route 243


The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and Ames Construction continue the emergency repairs to State Routes 74 and 243 (SR’s 74 and 243) leading to the Idyllwild and Mountain Center communities. The $30 million emergency contract is replacing culverts, rebuilding slopes and roadbeds, replacing drains, scaling rock, repaving roadbeds and reinstalling guardrail and signage.

Project Background:

The winter and spring rains of 2019 resulted in damage on both routes.  As of June 5, 2019 the updated damage assessment list has increased to 58 locations on SR 74 and 37 locations on SR 243. Nineteen (19) locations have been repaired on SR 74 and six (6) locations have been repaired on SR 243. Ames Construction has expended over 44,000 staff hours as of this week and has spent approximately $15 million on the emergency repairs.

Traffic Impacts:

Caltrans began to provide limited escorts on SR 74 in May to provide more access to residents and tourism during the week and on weekends. Ames continues full, daytime work shifts seven days a week, and spends nighttime work hours preparing for the next days work with equipment staging, refueling, material handling and other detailed work that can be completed during nighttime hours.

Caltrans began extended escort period on SR 74 beginning Saturday, June 15. The escort hours are expanded on Saturdays and Sundays from 4:00 a.m. to midnight until the Labor Day weekend.

Caltrans and Ames Construction’s goal is to eventually provide escorts 24 hours a day, seven days a week (24/7), beginning Labor Day weekend, Friday August 30, 2019.  This 24/7 escort access will be dependent on summer rain events and any additional damage that may cause issues for the escort schedule.

Motorists are reminded that the California Highway Patrol (CHP), Caltrans and Ames Construction will be on site to keep motorists and workers safe.  Please continue to follow the conditions below:

  1. The speed limit is 25 miles per hour during the escort.
  2. Motorists will not be permitted to stop or pull over during the escort.
  3. Motorists will not be permitted to pass other vehicles during the escort.
  4. The construction zone on SR-74 between Mountain Center and Borco will be a “DOUBLE FINE ZONE”.
  5. Sections of SR-74 will have uneven, unpaved roadbed with narrow passage. Be advised that dirt, sand, rock and mud will exist on the SR-74. Low profile vehicles are not recommended.
  6. No drone, video or photos will be permitted while you are using the escorts.
  7. Motorists must follow all commands given by the pilot workers, contractor employees, flaggers, Caltrans crews and the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
  8. The escorts can be canceled at any time due to safety concerns for the traveling public such as slope issues, rock fall, roadbed concerns and motorists not following traffic laws or escort provisions.

Travelers will experience delays during the escorts. Ames Construction, Caltrans and the CHP are committed to keeping the public safe while traveling on SR-74. SR 243 remains open to motorists from Idyllwild to Lake Fulmor, however repairs continue the portion between Lake Fulmor and Banning with no estimated time of reopening currently. During the weekend escorts, Ames Construction will focus their work on SR 243.

Updates will continue to be provided by Caltrans on the progress of the emergency work. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @caltrans8. 

Caltrans has provided a project update video. Closed caption is available on YouTube on the bottom right of the video https://youtu.be/RAuJFC8U8LI.