Caltrans began a new phase of work Monday on restoring sections of Highway 243 damaged by the Silver Fire, which broke out Aug. 7 near Poppet Flats and resulted in a full closure of the road from Twin Pines to Bannning that lasted until Aug. 16.
It could take eight weeks or more to complete repairs to the 243, with one lane closed and traffic control escorts in place to get motorists around work sites, according to Caltans District 8 officials.
Authorities opened the winding route to the public Friday and kept it open most of the weekend. A solo vehicle crash involving a Forest Service pickup temporarily closed the road Saturday afternoon between Black Mountain Trail and Lake Fulmor, a section of the 243 that was not affected by the Silver Fire.
Beginning Monday Aug. 19, the contractor Griffith Company and sub-contractors began working on an emergency schedule from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday "under flagging with traffic control by pilot car," District 8 spokeswoman Terri Kasinga said.
"One lane will be available at a time under these conditions so expect some delays," Kasinga said in a statement distributed Monday afternoon. "If possible, schedule your commute to avoid the work hours or use alternate routes."
The Silver Fire destroyed 48 structures including 26 homes, scorched more than 30 square miles, burned one civilian severely and contributed to a dozen firefighter injuries, according to Cal Fire.
The cause of the fire remained under investigation as of Monday, Jody Hagemann of Cal Fire Riverside County said in a phone interview. Fighting the fire and dealing with its aftermath cost $9.99 million as of Aug. 12. A week later there was no estimate on how much burned area rehab and other emergency measures may cost.
According to Caltrans, the contract awarded to Griffith Company to complete repairs to 243 is described as a $1.2 million emergency director's order.