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Idyllwild Businesses Suffer As Highways 74, 243 To Remain Closed All Summer

IDYLLWILD (CBSLA) – Two major arteries into the San Jacinto Mountains community of Idyllwild will likely remain shut down all summer due to ongoing stormy weather which has prevented repair work to move forward.

Highway 243 and Highway 74 have been shut down since February after historic rains washed away large portions of both roadways.

Highway 243 In San Jacinto Mountains Closed At Least 2 Months For Storm Repairs
Highway 243 in the San Jacinto Mountains near Idyllwild, Calif. Feb. 15, 2019. (Caltrans/Twitter)

Caltrans reported last week that a deluge of late season rain has set back repairs. The storms destroyed some of the work that was completed on Highway 243, with water continuing to flood the two washed out portions of the road.

"Additional damage and erosion continue weekly to slopes, culverts and the pavement on both routes," Caltrans said in a statement.

It's been a rough year for the town of Idyllwild. Businesses took a hit during the arson-sparked Cranston Fire, which broke out in the San Jacinto Mountains in July 2018. The 13,000-acre blaze destroyed 12 homes and forced thousands of people to evacuate.

The fire was followed by a series of powerful storms this winter and spring. One electronic roadside sign reads "business still open" to let people know that dozens of quaint shops in Idyllwild are still at their service.

"It's shut off our main road, so a lot of our food supplies couldn't get up here," Idyllwild resident Michael Keller said.

Highway 243 is closed between the 10 Freeway in Banning, southeast to Idyllwild. Highway 74 is shut down between Valle Vista at Willowbrook Road east to Mountain Center. Caltrans has no estimate for when Highway 243 will reopen. Highway 74 is expected to remain closed through at least July.

Caltrans is providing escorts up Highway 74. However, at this time, visitors can only get to Idyllwild by accessing Highway 371 through Anza or taking the back way from Palm Springs. Those routes can add 90 minutes to your trip. Pilot cars also make the trip from 5 a.m. - 8 a.m. and from 6 p.m. to midnight daily.

In February, Caltrans reported that it was paying $8 million to a contractor to do the emergency repair work on both highways.

Idyllwild has a website for potential visitors to the area. Click here for more.

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