RIVERSIDE – An Inland Empire lawmaker’s bill authorizing the transfer of a segment of Highway 74 from the state to Riverside County was signed into law today by Gov. Jerry Brown.
Under AB 218, sponsored by Assemblywoman Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, the California Department of Transportation will relinquish control of a six-mile stretch of state Route 74 between Lake Elsinore and Perris.
“I am thrilled the governor saw the need to return this portion of Highway 74 to local control,” Melendez said. “This substantially cuts down on the bureaucratic gridlock that plagues our state, allowing for the revitalization process to take hold.”
Under the legislation, the Riverside County Department of Transportation will be responsible for the corridor, relieving the state of all future maintenance and liability costs.
Melendez said the roadway has suffered from “years of neglect” and desperately needs a makeover.
“The restoration of this portion of Highway 74 will jump-start economic development and bring much-needed jobs to an area that continues to struggle with above average unemployment,” she said.
The county Board of Supervisors endorsed the bill earlier this year.
Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, whose First District encompasses the area, has said the communities of Good Hope and Meadowbrook are growing, but obtaining easements and other improvements along SR-74 is a frustrating process because of how slow the state moves.
Jeffries had been pushing for county control of the corridor for the last two years, pointing out that the portion of 74 traversing Perris had already been turned over to that city for maintenance and management.
“This route does not serve regional or statewide transportation needs, and therefore, should be given consideration to be relinquished by the state to the county,” Jeffries wrote in a resolution supporting AB 218.
The bill, which takes effect Jan. 1, clears the way for county officials to negotiate a revenue-neutral agreement with Caltrans, consummating the transfer.