Missed the exit to Highway 111 from eastbound I-10? You’re in good company

Concrete barriers create a “lane split” several miles before the exit. Unless you spot signs alerting you to the situation at just the right moment, the barriers will actually keep you from exiting.
Few motorists on eastbound Interstate 10 know they need to get in the far right lane when a “lane split” starts miles ahead of the Palm Springs exit in order to actually use the exit. Caltrans is aware and working on better signage. 

The advice “stay in your lane” may have never come at a better time for anyone looking to enter Palm Springs from eastbound Interstate 10, as long as that lane is on the far right.

At issue: Concrete barriers create a “lane split” several miles before the exit to Highway 111 (which eventually runs into the city). Unless you know to get in the far right lane at just the right time, the barriers actually keep you from exiting to 111. And if that happens, the next exit isn’t until Indian Canyon Drive, roughly eight miles away.

  • If you’ve missed signs alerting you about this, you’re not alone. Reports are most of your neighbors are in the same boat (car?). Visitors are also missing the exit and missing a chance to shop at many businesses along North Palm Canyon Drive.

  • “That closure starts way too long and is not marked enough,” Palm Springs Police Capt. Mike Kovaleff said Tuesday. “One-eleven inbound is an absolute ghost town right now.”

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The latest: Kovaleff’s jurisdiction does not include Interstate 10, and he is quick to point out that he definitely has no authority over the construction project known as the “I-10 Tuneup.” But after missing the exit himself, he elected to investigate and placed a call to Caltrans to inquire, “What gives”?

Our hero: Kovaleff’s efforts appeared to have paid off. A spokesperson for Caltrans said via email Tuesday afternoon that plans are underway to improve the signage in hopes of giving drivers a clearer picture of what they need to do in order to get into Palm Springs via the usual route.

  •  “When Capt. Kovaleff informed me of the issue, I contacted my Resident Engineer and the contractor for the project,” explained Emily Leinen, the agency’s external affairs office chief. “We are going to try and say ‘Palm Springs Exits’ rather than SR-111 to see if this assists with the traffic on the route.”

  • In addition, Leinen said, “We are looking to see if we have additional signage that can be placed closer to the lane split. Our only issue with placing it too close to the lane split is people cutting over too late. This is why a lot of our signs are placed further away from the split.”

Yes, but: A Caltrans project that’s actually inside the city limits isn’t seeing similar attention. The flashing red lights at the intersection of Vista Chino and North Palm Canyon Drive — caused after the intersection’s signal was knocked down in February — are technically on Highway 111. That means the fix is the state’s responsibility.

  •  Rumor has it you can blame the dreaded “supply chain issues” for the seven-month wait. If you would like to nudge Caltrans to bump the project up on its priority list, there is a long list of people at City Hall who will support you.

  • “City staff at every level, from the mayor to us on the front line, have been working on this with Caltrans, and still nothing has been done,” said Donn Uyeno, the city’s principal engineer.

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