Highway 86 Improvements

Riverside – The Riverside County Board of Supervisors has speeded up a process between the County Transportation Department and Caltrans which will lead to safety improvements on Expressway 86 in the Eastern Coachella Valley.

Responding to a request from the acting District Director for Caltrans, the Supervisors expedited an agreement between the County and Caltrans for installation of left turn lanes and traffic signals on Expressway 86 at Avenue 62.

Caltrans’ Patty Romo had made the “fast-track” request at the last meeting of the Expressway 86 Task Force—an ad hoc highway safety committee—in Coachella.

“Caltrans has stepped up to the plate with a fast track program for Avenue 50 and 52 signalization,” said Fourth District Supervisor Roy Wilson. “We need to show that the County of Riverside can act quickly and efficiently, as well. It is truly a matter of life and limb.”

In addition to the expedited improvements at Avenue 62, Caltrans has moved into the fast lane on the Avenue 50 and 52 signalization effort. Officials say they expect their “super-expediting” of these improvements will have signals up and operating at the two Coachella intersections by December of this year.

And there’s more good news on the Expressway 86 safety front: the Board of Supervisors also approved a name change for “Old Highway 86,” to avoid the confusion of having two thoroughfares with the same designation.

“There are currently two highways with the 86 designation,” said Supervisor Wilson.

“This is especially troublesome when emergency services personnel are trying to respond to an incident and don’t know for certain which ‘86’ the emergency call came from.”

Caltrans will abandon the old ‘86’ designation, turning the highway over to the County, causing the route to revert to the Harrison Street name which has existed for years. As a result of action today by the Board of Supervisors, the artery will, however, have only one name for its entire length.

A public information campaign led by Caltrans and the Desert Alliance for Community Empowerment (DACE) will tout the name change of the “Old Highway,” plus alert motorists to the upcoming construction and signalization. In addition, the safety campaign urges drivers to “Click it or Ticket,” to “Slow for the Cone Zone,” and the like.

“This is a model of agencies working together on a common goal,” said Sergio Carranza, who heads up DACE’s Task Force, whose meetings are regularly attended by officials from Caltrans, Riverside County, the California Highway Patrol, the Coachella Valley Unified School District, the City of Coachella, and others.

“It proves that together we really can accomplish great things for the betterment of the community.”