Caltrans officials said in a press conference on Wednesday morning that the damage on Highway 74 and Highway 243 is some of the worst they’ve ever seen.
“I’ve been with Caltrans for 35 years and haven’t run across a project with this magnitude of damage,” Michael D’Beauchamp, the director for Caltrans District 8, said.
Officials said it could be another four to five months to repair Highway 74. Changing weather conditions and new damage could likely extend that timeline.
“Caltrans expects that emergency work may well continue for approximately one year,” D’Beauchamp said.
Another year to fix the dozens of destroyed roadbeds and culverts, officials said.
“I thought that they did an excellent job presenting their timeline and everything they’re trying to get Idyllwild back up and running,” Jeanne Spatola, an Idyllwild resident, said.
Spatola is remaining positive through the trying time.
“Everything’s going be fine, it’s just that the roads are gonna take a little bit of time,” she said.
In the meantime, Caltrans promised escort access on Highway 74 for three hours in the morning, 4 a.m. to 7 a.m. and three hours at night, 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the next four to six weeks.
Still, it’s not much of a help for some who do escorts of their own.
“A run I did last week was 12 hours and it should’ve been 9,” Tucker Mcintyre, an Idyllwild resident, said.
Mcintyre buses students up and down the mountain but now his route is full of detours.
“We just kind of deal with it because we have no choice,” he said. “It’s okay because the students are worth it.”
Idyllwild residents don’t have a choice when it comes to the closures but visitors have a choice to lend a hand after the tough year.
“It’s just one thing after another,” Sandy Mrachek, a tourist, said. “So we thought yeah, we ought to go up there.”
Some Idyllwild residents said it felt busier on Wednesday. Tourism has crashed during these road repair weeks.