Jefferson Interchange Project Begins in March
Construction Pushed Back a Year to Secure $14.5M Federal Grant
By Colin Atagi and David Ncyzepir
THE DESERT SUN
Nine years after local leaders announced a major improvement project involving most of the Coachella Valley’s Interstate 10 interchanges, construction is finally set to begin on the final overpass included in the ambitious project.
A groundbreaking is scheduled for March 20 for the Jefferson Street interchange in Indio. Once it’s complete, the existing two-bridge interchange will be consolidated into a single, eight-lane bridge.
The interchange connects I-10 motorists to a busy road separating La Quinta and Indio — two of the desert’s fastest growing communities. According to the Coachella Valley Association of Government’s 2013 traffic count, about 11,850 vehicles use the overpass daily.
“I think the interchange will probably be beneficial in the end,” said Cheryl Woodbridge, who lives in Sun City Shadow Hills in Indio. “But in the time between now and when it’s finished some situations may manifest that people are not going to care for.”
Coupled with road work around Shadow Hills High School and the rerouting of a nearby flood channel, delays could occur, Woodbridge said.
People for years have complained about the confusing interchange. Currently, onand off-ramps extend far from the bridge and bumper-to-bumper conditions form because there are only stop signs guiding traffic.
South of I-10, Jefferson is part of a busy outlet that includes Country Club Drive and Avenue 42. North of the freeway, Jefferson leads people to Shadow Hills Golf Club and Shadow Hills High School.
“We’re really looking forward to the interchange,” said Principal Marcus Wood. “I know it’s a multi-year project that may have bumps along the road and impact traffic at different times, but we know the end result will be a great benefit.”
Currently traffic exiting the freeway jams when school starts and around 5 p.m., Wood said, but that problem should be solved by the interchange, as well as summer road work on Avenue 39 that will allow cars coming from the other direction to go around Shadow Hills High School.
Indio City Hall will host an informational meeting on the interchange around 5:30 p.m. March 4 at the school.
Construction was supposed to begin a year ago, but it was pushed back after Riverside County officials secured an extra $14.5 million federal grant. The extra money required officials to tweak their plan, including the project’s budget.
The final cost of construction should cost $42.3 million, which is about $13 million less than expected.
On Tuesday, Riverside County supervisors approved a contract with Riverside Construction Company, which put in the bid to build the interchange at the lower cost, according to the office of SupervisorJohn Benoit.
Work on the Monteray Avenue Overpass is Continuing
By Richard Lui
THE DESERT SUN
“Today is a momentous day to award the contract and move this project forward to construction,” Benoit said in a statement. “The Jefferson Street interchange will significantly improve traffic flow at one of our valley’s most important arteries.”
Jefferson is the last of six interchanges that were part of the valleywide interchange project announced in late 2007. The others were Palm Drive/Gene Autry Trail, Date Palm, Indian Canyon and Bob Hope drives and the Monterey Avenue loop ramps.
Total construction for the projects, which relied heavily on state and federal grants, cost about $123.6 million, according to the project’s website. Each interchange, save for Monterey, was essentially transformed from four-lane bridges to bridges with up to eight lanes, sidewalks and loop ramps.
According to the traffic count, at least 137,000 drivers may use all the interchanges on a daily basis.
The Monterey ramps are expected to be finished next month and all other interchanges were completed in about a year, except for the Date Palm interchange. That interchange, which is a major entry and exit point to and from Cathedral City, was delayed for a year by numerous interruptions.
They included burrowing owls that were found at the southern end of the interchange at Vista Chino shortly after work began in mid-2011. They are protected under the Coachella Valley Multiple Species Habitat Conservation Plan and workers had to wait for nesting season to end before they continued. Other Coachella Valley interchanges are at Cook, Washington, Monroe and Jackson streets. Cook and Washington, which both serve Palm Desert, already have multiple lanes and fit designs used in the improvement projects.
Monroe and Jackson are both narrow with two lanes in each direction. Indio city staff said improvements may be discussed as CVAG prepares a Traffic Project Prioritization Study this year.