The recent installation of five gates in the center median of Interstate 10 in the critical choke point in San Gorgonio Pass will alleviate total traffic congestion during emergencies, a county supervisor said this week.
The gates would provide an access way for California Highway Patrol officers to funnel traffic into opposing lanes between Banning and Palm Springs during a traffic jam on the freeway. It would also provide a way to get around fatality investigations or other closures on the freeway that has caused some "major traffic debacles" in the past, Supervisor John Benoit told City News Service.
The gates are guardrails which were placed along the concrete barriers of the Interstate 10 about three weeks ago. They are located between the Whitewater area and Banning and can now be opened up by an CHP officer, Benoit said.
"All of it is going to help," Benoit said. "Now, we have a couple of more options."
When Interstate 10 is blocked in the pass, near the Morongo Casino, the only ways around are 50-mile-plus detours through either Victorville or Hemet. There are no parallel roads in the pass itself.
The placement of the gates is part of an ongoing effort to provide motorists with alternatives in the wake of past traffic tie-ups on the Interstate 10. An $800,000 project to extend a mile-long roadway between Seminole Drive and Rushmore Avenue along the freeway is slated to start later this year, Benoit said.
The roadway would serve as part of an alternate route in times of total lane closures, Mojahed Salama, deputy director of the Riverside County Transportation Department, said.
That parallel route would be completed with a proposed parallel across the Morongo Indian Reservation, between Hargrave Street and Apache Trail, which would run south of the Interstate 10 and the Banning Municipal Airport, Salama said.
Nothing has been decided about the proposal, or about three other alternate bypass routes, but the project could carry a price tag of between $50 to $80 million over a three year construction period, depending on what route is selected, Salama said.
Funding would come from sales tax revenue from the Desert Hill Premium Outlets and Indian gaming, Salama added.
– City News Service.