Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
California State Route 111
California State Route 111 is the main north/south state highway and retail corridor through the Coachella Valley, a part of the Colorado Desert in the southeastern corner of the state and famous as a resort destination.
First proposed in the early 1930s due to the area's growth bought on by the Southern Pacific Railroad, Highway 111 links virtually every desert resort city in the valley. It begins at a junction with Interstate 10 near the foot of Mount San Jacinto. Continuing south, the highway first enters Palm Springs, becoming a surface street. This junction was so busy in the 1950s before the construction of the freeway that visitors returning home to Los Angeles might have waited as long as two hours to make the left turn on the two-lane road that was once signed concurrently as US Highways 60, 70 and 99. 111 then continues through Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, La Quinta, Indio and finally Coachella where it is co-signed with California State Route 86 before exiting the southeast corner of the valley as a two-lane highway. A 1993 rerouting of the highway takes drivers away from the historic center of Palm Springs, but meets with its original alignment as Business Route 111 a few miles further south.
A nearly forty-mile/64 km length of the highway dotted with date and citrus groves follows both the old Southern Pacific "Sunset Route" (now the main Union Pacific line between Los Angeles and New Orleans) and the eastern shore of the Salton Sea. Though some small settlements and a California state park line the shore, the area is eerily empty due to the sea's rapidly declining water quality. The small town of North Shore is all but abandoned and could be said to resemble a setting from a Stephen King novel.
As Route 111 continues southward into Imperial County, it passes through the agricultural communities of Niland, Brawley and Holtville before entering El Centro. It rejoins 86 in Heber and terminates in Calexico at the international border where it meets with Mexico 5 in Mexicali.
As the Coachella Valley's main retail corridor and link to its many resorts, a trip along Route 111 during the height of the tourist season from September to June can be a trying one due to out-of-town traffic, or as the locals fondly refer to them, "snowbirds." License plates from virtually every northern state of the Union and most Canadian provinces can be spotted in the course of a few minutes.
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