La Jolla board approves traffic circle at Ivanhoe Avenue East and Virginia Way
Traffic & Transportation also discusses a proposal for a stop sign on Colima Street at Waverly Avenue in Bird Rock.
La Jolla’s Traffic & Transportation Board approved a traffic circle for Ivanhoe Avenue East and Virginia Way at its Jan. 19 virtual meeting, giving weight to an idea researched by the city of San Diego about five years ago.
David Martin, who moved to La Jolla recently and lives on Virginia Way, said the “street is being misused in a number of ways,” including speeding.
“This is a 25 mph street,” he said. “People seem to treat it like a raceway at times.”
“Virginia Way is a very wide street,” measuring 60 feet across in most places, Martin added, and for four-tenths of a mile there are no stop signs or crosswalks.
“It’s very easy to let your pedal get away from you,” he said.
Martin said he learned that a traffic circle was originally requested in 2017 but the matter “just kind of faded into the background.”
T&T Chairman Brian Earley said “there were a lot of folks on Virginia Way back in 2017 that were voicing their concerns about the speed and safety of the entire street, [but] the subject never did reach the [La Jolla] Community Planning Association.”
At the time, San Diego city traffic engineers conducted a study that determined that about 60 percent of vehicles traveling west on Virginia Way exceeded the speed limit, while 66 percent of vehicles traveling east were speeding, Martin said.
The city drew up plans for a traffic circle at Virginia Way and Ivanhoe East, which have “been pretty well fleshed out by engineering down to the minutest of details,” Martin said.
Earley said other traffic-calming alternatives, such as speed humps or bumps, aren’t advised since Virginia Way is made of concrete.
Jennifer Brown, another resident of Virginia Way, said she has witnessed “a lot of road rage [from drivers] turning off of Ivanhoe and onto Virginia Way,” with some speeding around other cars and honking their horns “for the entire block [and] screaming.”
In the meeting’s Zoom chat box, resident Fred DuVal wrote that he just moved to Virginia Way and finds crossing it to be “scary and dangerous.”
Resident Gail Forbes asked about loss of parking spaces if a traffic circle is installed.
La Jolla Shores Association President Janie Emerson wrote in the chat that perhaps parking spaces could be switched from parallel to angled, which would create more spaces and slow down speeding cars.
T&T board member Patrick Ryan agreed, saying that’s an inexpensive way to calm speeding along the rest of Virginia Way.
The board unanimously approved a motion to support the traffic circle. Earley said the project will go “into a list of other projects that can be funded.”
Stop sign proposed
The board also discussed a stop sign proposed for Colima Street at Waverly Avenue in Bird Rock.
Michael Littleton, vice president of community for the Bird Rock Foundation, which supports Bird Rock Elementary School, asked the board on behalf of the foundation to consider the stop sign, citing heavy pedestrian traffic at the intersection during school start and end times.
Littleton said foot traffic has increased there since Bird Rock Elementary relocated its pedestrian entrance this academic year to a gate off Waverly Avenue.
“Due to the angle of Waverly and Colima there, it can be difficult to see around that corner,” Littleton said. At school drop-off and pickup times, cars parked on the streets further obstruct visibility, he added.
Ryan, who lives on Waverly, noted there is a two-way stop sign on Waverly at Colima. Littleton’s request is to make the intersection a four-way stop.
Ryan said he would support that. “My kids all cross that street,” he said.
Earley said that for the city to make the intersection a four-way stop, traffic engineers would need to conduct a feasibility study. He said he’s “already put in a request to have the four-way stop evaluated” and received city confirmation that it would be.
Earley said he also asked about a temporary stop sign where “you have teachers and parents out there as crossing guards,” but he learned “temporary stop signs are not authorized for use.”
He said Bird Rock Elementary does have parent volunteers at Waverly and Colima to assist pedestrians in crossing, “but people are still feeling a little unsafe because [drivers] used to not seeing a stop sign there are driving through.”
Earley said he would continue to collaborate with Littleton in urging the city to move forward with its study. He asked Littleton to obtain a letter from BRES Principal Andi Frost “stating that the crosswalk has officially moved … something that describes a more permanent movement for the students and parents and how often they use that during the year.”
Steve Hadley, representing the office of San Diego City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said such a letter would add weight to the request and said LaCava may be able to ask the mayor for a stop sign as well.
Hadley said a survey of local residents showing support also would aid the request.
T&T Vice Chairman Dave Abrams said he’d like to explore alternatives to a permanent stop sign, such as a flashing pedestrian light. “I’ve historically been opposed to stop signs where they don’t belong,” he said. “I think they’re more problems than the cure.”
Adding a stop sign that would be needed only “a limited time of day, a limited time of year … is the wrong way to go,” Abrams said.
Earley said the board may explore the issue as an action item at its next meeting at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 16, online. Learn more by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. ◆
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