By Dave Schwab
La Jolla Community Planning Association (LJCPA) voted unanimously July 7 to endorse doing Segment 4 from Little Street to La Jolla Shores Drive — the entrance to the Village and the longest segment — first in the $26 million Torrey Pines Corridor Improvement Project.
The least costly of the four proposed segments because it has very few retaining walls and the city has already allocated money to design and build those walls, Segment 4 is advocated by city traffic engineers and First District City councilwoman Sherri Lightner.
City traffic engineer Julio Fuentes, when pressed on a timetable for actually beginning construction on Segment 4, said it’s impossible to do so before design work is completed. Lightner at the LJCPA meeting reiterated her view that “this process needs to move forward or it could wind up costing us the whole project.”
The councilwoman said the best way to proceed is to get design of Segment 4 started in order to “showcase what can be achieved with the modest improvements we want to make.”
Lightner said it will then be possible to complete design of the other three roadway segments while simultaneously seeking grant funding for the remainder of the multi-year project.
The Torrey Pines Corridor Study previously approved by the City Council recommends 20 improvements including: street cross sections and new guardrails, bollards and sidewalks, a 10-foot-wide, two-way left-lane median in the center of Torrey Pines west of Viking Way, formation of a continuous marked bike lane, new V-calm speed indicators and transverse striping pavement markers installed in both directions to discourage speeding, new lighting and landscaped areas, bluff stabilization, addition of parkway trees and fencing, creation of a view corridor and addition of signage and storm-water drainage.
There is a consensus now to pursue Segment 4 first, despite an alternative proposal presented to break the project down further into eight more bite-size portions. Some LJCPA boardmembers voted for the project despite reservations they have about its community impacts. Others connected with the project insist there are other, smaller-scale improvements that need to be made in addition to larger-scale items.
“We don’t know how long any of these segments are going to take or how much disruption of traffic there’s going to be going into the Village,” said Orrin Gabsch. “If each of these four segments takes six months to construct, that’s going to take two years. You’re going to have a lot of businesses suffering big time in this community.”
Architect Robert Thiele, who chaired a committee studying Torrey Pines Corridor improvements in the earlier stages of the project, presented a list of recommendations on curing “liability issues” existing within the corridor. His list includes fixing ADA-accessible access ramps, maintaining bike lanes feet back from curbs, relocating light standards obstructing sidewalks, relocating retaining fencing to collect falling hillside rocks and trimming vegetation encroaching on pedestrians and bicyclists.
Thiele’s list included one other more controversial proposal: Installing a pedestrian crossing signal at Princess Street.
LJCPA treasurer Jim Fitzgerald commented that the project as envisioned would be a “quantum improvement” over the roadway as it exists now.
“If you don’t start, you’ll never get it done,” he cautioned.