Construction workers are hard at work to build a bridge in the eastern Coachella Valley, which aims to alleviate traffic. The Avenue 66 Grade Separation project is approaching the second of three stem and soffit concrete pours, according to an official with the project management team. The concrete will go inside of the bridge, and will likely happen on Tuesday. The next step would be filling the deck of the pour.
"We are pouring the bottom half of the bridge. Once that portion is complete the contractor will put up a deck form, which is basically a piece of plywood for those pieces of concrete that are poured and then you pour the deck and that’s what we see when we drive over it at the completed project," said resident engineer, Lucas Rathe.
Construction of the bridge began in May 2020 and will connect to Avenue 66 on both sides. That's after Riverside County supervisors signed off on the multimillion-dollar contract by the Transportation and Land Management Agency in early 2020 to build a 2-lane overpass at the intersection.
One of the major issues is where a roundabout connects Hammond Road to 4th Street and Grapefruit Boulevard in Mecca. Several trains pass through the area daily, creating gridlock and forcing drivers to wait several minutes to get through.
"This bridge project will allow motorists to safely enter and exit the community of Mecca without having to wait at that signal if they need to get on Highway 86 from their location," said Rathe.
Though the construction of the bridge has caused road closures and temporary delays, residents in the area are relieved there will be an alternate route.
"With the bridge it will be easier for people, less dangerous, less accidents," said one east valley resident in a statement translated from Spanish.
Aside from the bridge itself, "there's going to be an approximately 8-foot wide multi-use sidewalk."
The project is expected to finish this fall.
Meanwhile, Motorists were urged to brace for traffic delays next week in Mecca due to ongoing construction of a new bridge slated for the community.
A partial stretch of Highway 111 near Avenue 66 will be closed in the
southbound direction next Tuesday from midnight to 10 a.m, according to the
Riverside County Department of Transportation.
Flaggers will be on hand directing traffic.