Kazin Mamdani, a California Department of Transportation design manager, displays a rendering of the Interstate 8/Imperial Avenue interchange project during a forum on Jan. 15 at El Centro Regional Medical Center. | William Roller photo
EL CENTRO — It is never too early to prepare and that was the point of the Jan. 15 forum to clue in motorists on the coming traffic ruckus during the Interstate 8/Imperial Avenue interchange project.
was co-hosted by the California Department of Transportation District 11 and the
city of El Centro at El Centro Regional Medical Center. It followed a media
event on the project two days earlier, exemplifying the gravity of the coming
residents stopped by the hospital Medical Office Building at 1271 Ross Ave. to
view the schematic displays on Jan.15.
to the traffic flow will benefit a lot of families living in the Farmer Estates
subdivision on the city’s south side, said forum attendee Ernesto Benitez, who resides
there and commutes to his job at an Imperial Irrigation District office near
downtown El Centro.
only way for them to get out of the subdivision over to the north side of the
city is cross I-8 and once across, use La Brucherie (Ave.) to drop off their
kids at Southwest High School,” he said.
going north there’s more elementary schools near Waterman and it gets
congested. So it’s a good thing they widened LaBrucherie to extra lanes because
it relieves the bottleneck,” he said, referring to another recently
completed road project.
I-8/Imperial Ave. project has two components. In the first, starting later this
year and expected to be completed in 2022, Caltrans will reconfigure the
interchange. That will result in partial closures of the interchange and
require drivers to use alternative access to I-8. Next, El Centro will begin
extending Imperial Ave. south of the highway.
Imperial Ave. extension is complete it will relieve a lot of traffic like La
Brucherie, Eighth and Fourth streets, Benitez predicted.
understand the process but the construction will only be temporary so the
Imperial Ave. extension benefits south side residents like myself,” he
As the work
proceeds it will be important for motorists to understand the changes in
traffic flow, officials said.
important element is planning, explained El Centro Police Chief Brian Johnson,
since drivers will soon face increased traffic congestion that may affect their
project is a long time coming (with the) prospect for growth,” said
Johnson. “Hopefully the public will use patience so Caltrans can provide
us with a more efficient way to navigate the highway and south side of the
need to be patient, stressed Ross Cather, a Caltrans division chief.
going to be a trying time. That’s why we’re asking people to sign in tonight to
get their contact information and keep them informed,” Cather said.
Concerning the project timeline, he added, “We
already have all the funds ($42 million from the state Transportation
Commission). It’s just a matter of selecting the lowest, responsible bidder. Since
we don’t know how fast that will take that’s why we say the start date could be
from anywhere from April to June.”