It’s become so common that we almost expect it during winter storms, like the one we experienced today.
Major thoroughfares in and around Palm Springs close down where they cross the Whitewater Wash because water and mud wash over the roads.
It’s an inconvenience for the thousands of motorists who drive on Indian Canyon Drive, Gene Autry Trail, and East Vista Chino, but it could also potentially be life-threatening for those living North of the closures, because it effectively cuts off quick access to Desert Regional Medical Center.
“Not only me, it affects everybody you know, because we only got like three main streets we hit so most people who live in DHS, get stuck here or you know, they got to take the freeway.” Jose Acosta, a Coachella Valley resident says.
There are two direct roads that Desert Hot Springs residents can take to get into Palm Springs, Indian Canyon Drive and Gene Autry Trail.
Come any weather disruptions including rain or windy weather, those two roads close down almost immediately.
“It takes me all the way around, I gotta go to two exits, or I have to go backtrack, so it’s really difficult because I don’t like going down Whitewater, Whitewater is a hectic situation. With Indian being closed, then I can’t go into town.” Kim Blount, another Coachella Valley resident says.
Desert Hot Springs’ Mayor Scott Matas says, the major thoroughfares that run through the Whitewater River, better known as “the wash” close regularly, especially in the winter forcing over 10,000 residents who leave Desert Hot Springs everyday for work to take longer routes.
Another major concern is medical services. When these roads are closed, access to Desert Regional Medical Center is difficult to get to quickly, from Desert Hot Springs.
One potential solution from the Coachella Valley Association of Governments was to build one large bridge over the wash, but that isn’t financially feasible.
Instead, Matas has support from other leaders to pursue building smaller bridges over the wash on each of the affected roads.
“We looked at some different avenues, did some engineering and we were awarded a $50 million grant from the State of California to build a fabricated bridge over smaller sections of that area, The project will be in total $75 million and get underway in the next couple of years.” Mayor Scott Matas adds.
This bridge could then become a prototype for the other locations that need bridges over the wash.
When all is done and finished, Matas says this will solve the biggest concern, which is access to Desert Regional Medical Center.
“Desert Hot Springs doesn’t have a lot of thoroughfares in the city. So what we want to do is really build real solutions. I think this study by CVAG and then looking for funding is going to be a real solution in the next five years. Unfortunately, constituents just have to be patient for a little bit longer, but we were actually working on real solutions.” Mayor Matas says.