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La Jolla’s Hillside Drive to get updated signs prohibiting large trucks

The city of San Diego will update signage on Hillside Drive in an effort to keep trucks from getting stuck, as this one did.
The city of San Diego will update signage on Hillside Drive in La Jolla in an attempt to prevent trucks from getting stuck, as this one did.
(File)

The city of San Diego has agreed to a La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board recommendation to replace signs at various intersections along Hillside Drive in La Jolla prohibiting trucks over 5 tons and 26 feet from front to rear axle to prevent them from getting stuck.

In one of several updates the traffic board heard at its April 21 meeting, La Jolla Community Planning Association President Diane Kane said city traffic engineer Gary Pence told her the city will install the signs after her meeting with him to explain “what types of signs would be helpful and where they should go.”

Kane had requested in February that T&T recommend new signage, citing several instances of large trucks becoming stuck as they turned from Torrey Pines Road onto Hillside Drive or from Hillside to Torrey Pines.

She said signs prohibiting trucks over a certain weight and length placed at Hillside Drive and Soledad Avenue and Hillside and Via Siena as a replacement for older, more vague signage would lessen the number of trucks entering the neighborhood that get stuck, often requiring hours to release them.

The problem, she said in February, is that only prohibiting trucks over a certain weight is misguided because the length of a truck also contributes to its ability to make the turn at Torrey Pines and Hillside.

She said installing the signs will take about four months, according to communication from Pence.

In the meantime, Steve Hadley, representing the office of City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, confirmed that the city will regrade Torrey Pines Road.

The resurfacing of that road some years ago to improve stormwater drainage capacity causes longer trucks to become stuck in the resulting dip between Torrey Pines and Hillside, T&T Chairman Dave Abrams said.

“We haven’t been given a time frame for [the regrading],” Hadley said. “That’s going to be a little more costly and labor-intensive than putting up signs.”

He said he would provide an update at the next T&T meeting.

Other T&T news

No middle lane change at Girard and Pearl: Delving into another oft-discussed item, Abrams said a request by resident Francine Ginsburg to change the middle lane on southbound Girard Avenue at Pearl Street to right-turn-only “wasn’t advisable,” according to city traffic engineers.

Ginsburg made the request in August, citing concerns about traffic congestion and safety at the intersection.

The engineers’ analysis of traffic patterns at Girard and Pearl resulted in their recommending against it, Abrams said. “So we’ll put that one to bed,” he added.

T&T member Brian Earley said that although the engineers decided against Ginsburg’s request, they implemented “a timing adjustment … that will be of help” in the intersection.

An email from city traffic engineers revealed that the internal clock in the signal at Girard and Pearl was not synced. Engineers adjusted the clock earlier this year in an effort to improve progression through the intersection.

New stop sign approved: The city has approved a new stop sign at the intersection of Bellakaren Place at Avenida Kirjah, Abrams said, following a resident’s request.

The intersection, east of La Jolla Scenic Drive North near La Jolla Parkway, was found to warrant a stop sign following a city traffic analysis, Abrams said.

“There’s a safety issue here,” he said. “The cars traveling on Bellakaren would run right into Avenida Kirjah and perhaps create some traffic hazard.”

Since the March T&T meeting was canceled, Abrams said he gave Pence “the authorization to move forward on behalf of our committee. … It’s pending [and] will be awhile before the signage gets put in.”

Suggestion to modify Pearl Street: La Jolla resident Jonathan Scheff asked the T&T Board to consider his observations of Pearl Street between Girard Avenue and La Jolla Boulevard.

Scheff said that area is “varied in configuration,” which he said “lends itself to quirky driving and safety concerns.”

The inconsistent street widths and placement of parking lead to bottlenecked traffic as people try to park at parallel spots, Scheff said.

“The ambiance of the stretch on Pearl from Girard to La Jolla Boulevard is pretty different than the shopping district of Girard or the restaurant district of Prospect” Street, he added.

La Jolla architect Trace Wilson said Scheff’s observations were “right on. I think Pearl Street needs to be improved and I think we need to look at the overall streetscape … and make this really a beautiful piece of La Jolla.”

T&T member Patrick Ryan voiced support for the idea, saying “it’s a great area that needs a lot of improvement. I would love to see … what can be done there with traffic flow without completely chunking everything up, given that we’ve got buses and cars and restaurants and everything else through there.”

Abrams wondered if Scheff’s request could be added to the purview of Vision La Jolla, a committee formed by Kane and approved by the Community Planning Association to develop streetscape designs, among other tasks.

Vision La Jolla Chairman Andy Fotsch said he would add it to the committee’s scope.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 19. To learn more, email manana@san.rr.com.