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One year after “Desert Deluge” officials in valley cities discuss response plans for future storms

desert deluge

On Ramon Road in Cathedral City last February 14th, and days after, there were major traffic backups because of road closures elsewhere in Palm Springs in the wash areas at Highway 111, Indian Canyon, Gene Autry and Vista Chino.

For drivers and city officials it was a mess they hope they don't see again.

The road closures, especially in Palm Springs, led to major traffic backups especially on Ramon Road eastbound, with drivers turning north on Landau and Date Palm to reach Interstate 10.

"We anticipated that traffic congestion would be a complete nightmare with all of these roads closed into and out of the city," said Assistant Palm Springs City Manager Marcus Fuller.  

As a result of the storm, and in anticipation of a similar event in the future, Palm Springs city officials say they're working to make better use of social media to communicate directly with citizens to provide information on road closures and traffic advisories.  

"We need to create a bigger following now on various platforms should we have another event, we would have already created such a following," said Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes.

The city also plans to purchase electronic billboards to warn drivers on Interstate 10 when surface streets are closed.

Also, a study now being performed by the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, when complete, is expected to provide recommendations on how to better manage road closures not only in Palm Springs but also in Desert Hot Springs and Cathedral City.

"When you're dealing with such a tremendous flood coming through especially in the wash area you want to make sure people are aware of the dangers," said Cathedral City Communications Director Chris Parman.

In Cathedral City, the major flooding on Date Palm at Los Gatos is something that hasn't occurred before, according to Parman.

To fix that, the city is applying for grants for roughly $700,000 to add extra drainage at the intersection.

Before the storm, the city already had in place a plan to build a new $22 million bridge over the wash on Cathedral Canyon Drive.  

Chris Parman says city officials for years have been working on the plan to build the bridge on Cathedral Canyon Drive.  

Construction is set to begin in May and take about 18 months to complete.

The bridge on Ramon Road connecting Palm Springs to Cathedral City will be widened from four lanes to six starting in two to three years, a project being planned long before the storm hit but sure to ease traffic congestion in the future.

At the wash on Vista Chino, construction on a long-planned bridge there is set to begin in three to four years.

But for the wash area at Indian Canyon, the $250 million dollars needed to build a two mile bridge there is nowhere in sight.

Fuller says the city will continue to pursue funding for a bridge over the wash on Indian Canyon, partly because the road is a crucial link between Interstate 10 and Desert Regional Medical Center.  

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Tom Tucker

Tom Tucker is a veteran broadcast journalist with nearly 20 years of experience. Learn more about Tom here.


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