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City Crews Prepare for Another Round of High Winds

By Francinni Zabata, Reporter, francinni.zabata@cbslocal2.com
Published On: Apr 22 2014 10:07:10 PM CDT
PALM SPRINGS, Calif. -

As the high winds are expected to pick up Tuesday night, it could make driving difficult by reducing visibility, and forcing the closure of several roads in the valley.

In Palm Springs, crews were already working early Tuesday afternoon to prepare for the blowing sand, even as they continued to deal with cleanup from previous sand storms. Over the past several months, high winds have forced Indian Canyon, Gene Autry, and Vista Chino to close many times. First due to the low visibility, then because of the cleanup of sand off the roads.

For Chuck Amendola the road closures have been a consistent inconvenience.
    
"Well, for my commute I'll have to start about a half hour early because I'll have to go west on the Interstate 10 and take the Whitewater turn off and take that over to Highway 111 and back into town. So, it delays me easily by 20 minutes," he said.

For the city, the sand has long been an ongoing issue. Public Works Director David Barakian said they're handling it the best they can, as they work on several solutions, including a temporary sand wall on Gene Autry as a test.

"It has proved successful for the most part, instead of covering up the entire road with sand with a little bit of wind, it is at least limiting the amount of sand," Barakian said.
     
Barakian also added that bridges over those main roads, Indian Canyon and Vista Chino, is expected to eventually happen with the first to be built over Vista Chino in the next 10 years. He says each bridge would cost an estimated $150 Million to build, with much of the money coming from federal funds.

The Riverside County Transportation Department says it also has its crews proactively working its designated areas before and after wind storms to avoid sand from accumulating on the roads. They also respond to requests from neighbors who call in sand buildup on their streets. The department makes sand removal from the roads as part of their maintenance routine and is part of their budget.

In Palm Desert, we talked to the public works department who says the city's never had a significant sand problem. In fact, they've never had a road close due to a sand storm.