COACHELLA, Calif. -

A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held today for the State Route 86/Airport Boulevard Interchange, which is tentatively scheduled open to traffic on May 11.

Construction began in April 2011 on the $6.1 million, state-funded structure, which replaced a ground-level intersection with an interchange carrying Airport Boulevard traffic over SR 86.

The project added three 12-foot-wide lanes, left-turn pockets at the onramps, two 8-foot-wide shoulders, traffic signal-controlled onramps and offramps, and a 6-foot wide sidewalk on the south side of the bridge, according to Caltrans.

"Local residents are excited to see this bridge open after 13 months of construction," Caltrans District 8 Acting Director Syed Raza said. "The opening of this bridge should relieve local traffic congestion and make travel through this area much safer, easier, and efficient."

Raza was accompanied at the ribbon-cutting by Assemblyman V. Manuel Perez, D-Coachella, Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe Vice Chairman Raymond Torres, Thermal Community Council member Sergio Duran and Coachella
Valley Associated Governments Director Tom Kirk.