Residents bend City’s ear on Torrey Pines Road/La Jolla Parkway traffic

Residents who live on feeder streets to the ever-congested Torrey Pines Road/La Jolla Parkway are growing more and more frustrated with the traffic resulting from the area thoroughfare. In particular, those near the intersection of Hidden Valley Road at Torrey Pines Road shared their concerns at an Aug. 30 gathering. And while they don’t have an expertly crafted solution to the problem, they invited someone who might.

In attendance was City traffic engineer Alexander Lukes, who was asked to come see first-hand some of the issues troubling residents.

“There is so much traffic gridlocked on Torrey Pines Road that motorists are using residential streets as a side route. Some streets, including mine, do not have sidewalks and wind around, so you can’t see what’s coming up the road. People are driving 40 and 50 miles per hour,” said meeting organizer Karen Marshall.

Additional problems stem from a short-duration left-turn signal onto Torrey Pines Road coupled with the people turning onto Hidden Valley Road, who run the red light and block the left turn lane.

“There has got to be a solution to the lights,” Marshall insisted. “How many cars they let through, etc. if you are turning left onto Torrey Pines Road from Hidden Valley, you can get maybe two cars — if the driver is paying attention.” (Reporter’s note: When leaving the meeting, La Jolla Light made that turn onto Torrey Pines Road and was the second car in line. The turn signal was yellow before this reporter could clear the intersection.)

Others added that when a car runs the red light coming onto Hidden Valley, it blocks the left turn lane coming onto Torrey Pines Road. With the adaptive signal timing rotation, it could be three minutes or more before the light is green again.

“The adaptive signal timing has made the situation worse for those that live here,” said resident Daria Polson.

Among her ideas, Polson said she would like to see the lanes re-drawn to better accommodate changes in traffic patterns. She said she called City Council member Barbara Bry’s office and former City Council member Sherri Lightner before her.

Public safety advocate Catharine Douglass, who lives near the intersection of Torrey Pines Road and Ivanhoe Avenue where a car recently crashed into a house, witnessed an ambulance getting stuck in traffic.

“The perpetual gridlock emanating from the two traffic signals on Torrey Pines in ‘the throat’ is causing a parking lot effect daily that extends way up Torrey Pines past East Ivanhoe for hours at a time,” she noticed. “This gridlock is severely impeding the response time of emergency personnel going in both directions on Torrey Pines.

“The two lanes of vehicles caught in the gridlock situation are not able to move to the curb to let the emergency vehicles pass. Emergency vehicles are caught in this gridlock compromising the safety of our citizens. The City needs to find a solution to the current number of vehicles traveling on Torrey Pines.”

Reporter’s note: It took La Jolla Light 16 minutes to travel the 1.9 miles from our offices on Pearl Street to the meeting at Hidden Valley Road at Torrey Pines Road. En route, four cars ran a red light and at one point, this reporter was completely stopped for three minutes.