Cyclists and others hoping to use a planned 40-mile path stretching from northern Palm Springs to the Salton Sea are seeing slower progress than they hoped, but the project remains on track and fully funded according to those leading the way.
Details: As designed, the Coachella Valley Link will provide a method of travel for bike riders, walkers, and low-speed electric vehicles. It was first conceived in 2011 and construction started in 2017. Funding has largely come from grants and is being done in various segments.
- While few segments are currently available for use, a project map lists dozens of mostly disconnect sections as “under construction.” Many are not visible to residents, but that’s part of the plan: Building the path away from current roadways will increase safety for both those who use it and motorists.
- One major gap in the plan exists in Indian Wells and Rancho Mirage, where residents and elected officials did not support plans for the path to travel through their cities.
Current affairs: The most recent segment to break ground is in Palm Springs, along the Tahquitz Creek Channel. It’s there that the path will connect DeMuth Park with downtown. It’s expected to be complete before the end of the year.
- Also under construction is work on roughly 13.5 miles of the route through La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella. That work includes not only paved pathway, but bridges and roadway undercrossings. Much of that work should be completed by the end of next summer.
- Combined, about half of the $100 million needed for the project is being spent on current work, according to Tom Kirk, executive director of the Coachella Valley Association of Governments (CVAG), which is leading the project.
Behind the scenes: Residents frustrated with what they perceive as lack of progress have taken to social media to lob accusations of malfeasance — all without proof — and call for investigations of all sorts. Kirk understands the irritation but points out land acquisition for a project this size takes time.
- “When we were conceptualizing this project 10 years ago, I thought the hardest part would be lining up the funding,” Kirk explained. “We did that relatively quickly. By far, the most difficult thing has been acquiring the right of way. It’s like building a mini freeway.”
- It’s unsexy bureaucratic work that doesn’t make headlines, but CVAG has now acquired 90% of the land it needs to complete the project. That will make finishing construction much easier.
Going forward: Cost overruns should be kept in check, thanks to the fact much of what was needed for the project was ordered early on. “We’re either very smart or very lucky because we started ordering material in bulk right at the beginning of the pandemic,” Kirk said.
- Construction costs were also locked in when contracts were signed in late 2020, Kirk explained, adding, “We’re going to have plenty of money to build CV Link. When we bid next year for the next contract, even if we come up short, we’ll figure a way to get it done.”