Deserts

Head rolls at Caltrans over 20-mile desert traffic jam

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Wow, can't say I expected this. With politicians in Riverside and San Bernardino counties clamoring for an explanation, the local Caltrans chief has re-assigned the engineer on the Interstate 10 repaving project that closed several lanes of the freeway at the height of Sunday's westbound rush. The ensuing traffic jam extended 20 miles into the desert near Palm Springs and lasted ten hours, forcing at least one group headed for the Grammys to ditch the car and fly. Raymond W. Wolfe, the Caltrans District 8 director, had another reason to get angry phone calls, it turns out.

"I am embarrassed and disappointed that the actions of some of my staff impacted so many motorists," Wolfe said. "By the time I became aware of the situation, there was little I could do to mitigate the traffic impacts as the concrete simply had to cure before traffic could be re-established.

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"I understand that numerous dignitaries who were attending the opening ceremony of the Annenberg Retreat in Rancho Mirage were likely caught in the traffic jam, and this will likely lead to a broader discussion."

Guy McCarthy at Banning-Beaumont Patch has been all over this story from the start.

Photo: Westbound drivers on Interstate 10 viewed from the Haugen-Lehmann Way overpass in Whitewater, delayed due to unannounced freeway work in Banning on Sunday. Banning-Beaumont Patch photo by Guy McCarthy


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