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Riding Forward: An update on CV Link construction in Palm Desert. Hint, It’s almost complete

CV Link construction is plowing ahead around the Coachella Valley to the tune of more than $52 million dollars. That's more than half the project's total cost.

In late March, News Channel 3 showed you a groundbreaking event at the border of Indio and La Quinta where a new CV Link bridge will soon connect the two cities along the active transportation path for runners, people on bikes, skateboards, and light electric vehicles. But much of the city of Palm Desert's CV Link trail is already nearly complete. 

The trailhead at the Bump and Grind trail looks much different now than in October of 2019 when we last checked on CV Link plans in the city. Then, it was just an idea on a piece of paper.

Today, the work there is almost done and Palm Desert's 3 1/2 mile CV Link project completion is expected this spring at a cost of $5.58 million dollars. 

Palm Desert Mayor Pro-Tem Jan Harnik said, "There's going to be a little esthetic and a little polishing after that, but we're going to be done in May."

Coachella Valley Association of Governments Executive Director Tom Kirk said, "For me, this feels like a hundred years in, and finally getting to see a lot of results."

The results are easy to see including concrete barriers separating vehicular traffic from people who want to walk, ride bikes or skate around the city. These highly visible protected pathways will also be wide open to light electric vehicles. 

"The funny thing is," said Kirk, "these days you don't even know when a bike is an electric vehicle. They're so disguised. And yet many of the bikes in our community have little electric motors. So do the skateboards."

The Palm Desert section was redesigned when the neighboring cities of Rancho Mirage and Indian Wells both pulled out of the valley-wide alternative transportation project. 

The new pathway now winds through the city connecting neighborhoods and shopping and giving students a safer way to walk or bike to and from school.

"There's Lincoln Elementary," said Harnik. "There's Palm Desert Charter Middle. There's Sacred Heart. So there's a number of schools that will be positively impacted for them," Harnik added.

"So the Pandemic really hasn't slowed this project down?," we asked Harnik.

She responded, "It really hasn't. In fact, I think it's accelerated it. We didn't have to worry too much about impacting businesses, so with the construction, we could just go straight ahead." 

The pandemic has brought fewer construction related interruptions for nearby schools and businesses because many were closed and fewer cars were on the roads. And the project created jobs when they were desperately needed.

This Palm Desert construction is on top of another contract to build 13 and a half miles of CV Link pathway, some here in Palm Desert, the rest in Coachella, Indio, La Quinta, Palm Springs, and unincorporated areas of Riverside County.

The CV Link's nearly $100 million dollars overall price tag includes funding from Caltrans, the California Active Transportation Program, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, the California Strategic Growth Council, the Desert Healthcare District, the Congestion Mitigation & Air Quality Improvement Program (CMAQ) and the Riverside County Park and Open Space District.

It's costing about $2 million dollars a mile to build. CV Link Spurs will soon connect Palm Desert users to the San Pablo neighborhood and toward El Paseo, and north up Cook Street by Palm Desert High School toward Country Club Drive.

Harnik said, "It's great to see it come to fruition. It's great to see this asset benefit our whole community." CVAG estimates the entire project's build-out to take three to five years.

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Jeff Stahl

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