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Appendix: Case Study Profiles

3. Cathedral City, California - Palm Canyon Drive Streetscape

Funding Sources and Amounts: $17,618,065

Years: 1992–1998

Sources included $9 million in Measure A funding from the Riverside County Transportation Commission, over $1 million in Measure A funding from the Coachella Valley Association of Governments, over $4 million in Maintenance of Effort funds disbursed over several years, $572,000 in Channel Funding from the Riverside County Flood Control District, and the remaining funds from a combination of redevelopment funds, city capital funds, undergrounding funds, remnant property sales revenue, and Caltrans relinquishment funds.

Agencies/Organizations Involved: City of Cathedral City.

Geographic Area: East Palm Canyon Drive, formerly Highway 111 corridor, between Cathedral Canyon and Date Palm Drive in Cathedral City, CA.

Problem to Be Addressed

Find a way to utilize the necessary widening of the corridor to enhance the city's historic downtown prosperity.

Objectives of Project

Redevelopment of the city's downtown to stimulate economic prosperity, spearheaded by reconstruction and redesign of the city's most visible boulevard.

Summary of Project

Redevelopment of East Palm Canyon Drive into a "palm-lined 'Grand Boulevard'"12 included reorganizing the street configuration, widening the street to accommodate increasing traffic, improving the visual effects of the street, and improving the pedestrian connections. Also included in the project was "a plan for incremental regional commitment to transit operations."13

Type of Funding Used for Project / Plan

Population Served and Modes Served

Cathedral City residents and visitors; automobiles.

Project Details

Downtown Revitalization Public Workshop Process

Due to expanding population and sprawl, the city of Cathedral City was experiencing busy traffic conditions and unfocused economic expansion. The State department of transportation (DOT), Caltrans, intended to widen a constantly bottlenecked segment of Palm Canyon Drive (also known as Highway 111) from five to seven lanes. This was not embraced by the community. At the same time, there was strong interest in revitalizing the city's downtown. The Downtown Revitalization Steering Committee was appointed by the City Council "to develop recommendations to move forward effectively with the reconstituted downtown."14

During a public workshop process, the Downtown Revitalization Steering Committee worked with hired consultants (Freedman Tung & Bottomley) and the community to create those recommendations. One of these recommendations included redesigning the main corridor into Downtown East Palm Canyon Drive. By transforming this quarter-mile-long segment into an attractive corridor that could accommodate the growing traffic needs, the community and the city hoped it would bring both business and residential investments to downtown, thus reversing "deterioration of the commercial and residential neighborhoods"15 along the corridor.

The redesign of the street configuration into a "multi-way boulevard segment"16 served to draw attention to a corridor that was previously unmemorable and disinvested by (1) slowing down through-traffic and (2) adding features to attract commercial and residential development along the corridor. Features such as angled parking and separation of slow-moving traffic and central fast lanes stimulated the desired development, while addressing pedestrian needs ensured the corridor would stay viable.

"The design recommendation also called for reorganizing lane and intersection configuration to relieve traffic bottlenecks and meet standards for enhanced operations."17 It would also accommodate other modes of transportation from the existing bus service to a potential light rail.

Livability Principles Promoted by Project

Promotion Livability Principles
F Increase transportation choices
  Promote affordable housing
F Enhance economic competitiveness
F Support existing communities
  Coordinate Federal policies and leverage investment
F Value communities and neighborhoods

P: Partly Supports
F: Fully Supports


  • Finding a way to for high-volume, fast-moving traffic to coexist alongside a safe, pedestrian-friendly environment.
  • Getting Caltrans to approve the preferred project designs when they were found not in conformance with the State DOT design standards.


  • Designing and constructing a corridor that allowed fast-moving traffic to flow seamlessly with pedestrian/commercial traffic.
  • Collaborating with Caltrans to get the street design approved.

Perspectives on Implementing the Project and Its Impacts

Project Status

As of early 2010, the status of the project is as follows:

Applicability of Lessons Learned to

Other Projects or Challenges

When faced with a widening project that will meet traffic needs but may damage the cityscape, it is possible to leverage the project in such a way to improve the community's appearance and residential and economic outlooks.

Roles of MPOs / DOTs and Policy / Plan Outcomes

Because of traffic congestion and population expansion, Caltrans wanted to widen the section of Highway 111 that consisted of Palm Canyon Drive. City leaders looked for a design that would not require widening the highway, but the plans were rejected by Caltrans because they didn't meet state design regulations. City leaders were then able to pass legislation to remove the Palm Canyon Drive section of Highway 111 out of the state highway system, thus allowing the city to continue with their preferred design that would not require widening of the road. Without Caltrans' relinquishment of the desired portion of the highway, Palm Canyon Drive could not have been designed to better accommodate pedestrian and commercial traffic.

Both the Riverside County Transportation Commission and Coachella Valley of Governments stepped in and helped the city of Cathedral City fund the redevelopment of Palm Canyon Drive. Without their financial support, the project would have taken much longer to complete.

For More Information

Sources and Other Resources:

12 City of Cathedral City, Downtown Design Guidelines. Accessed January 29, 2010. Available at

13 FTS, Palm Canyon Drive - Boulevard and Landmark Design pdf. Accessed January 29, 2010. Available at

14 FTS Cathedral City Project Background

15 ity of Cathedral City, Downtown Design Guidelines. Accessed January 29, 2010. Available at

16 FTS, Palm Canyon Drive - Boulevard and Landmark Design pdf. Accessed January 29, 2010. Available at

17 FTS, Palm Canyon Drive Streetscape Project Page. Accessed January 29, 2010. Available at cathedral_city_Palm_Canyon_Drive_Streetscape.

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Updated: 10/20/2015
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