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New guardrail coming to Torrey Pines Road

This white K-rail on Torrey Pines Road will be replaced with a guardrail.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

A new guardrail is coming along the north side of Torrey Pines Road between Prospect Place and Coast Walk, where there currently is a white K-rail, after the San Diego City Council authorized using a $718,700 grant from the California Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Improvement Program.

The grant funding will support the design and construction phases. The approval to use it came Feb. 1, and details are still being developed.

“We are in the infancy of this project,” said city spokesman Anthony Santacroce. “Consequently, there are currently no renderings of what the proposed rail may look like. Now the work begins to develop a scope and timeline of the work over the next few months.”

He said the plans would be shared with community planning groups for input before construction begins.

A staff report associated with the proposal reads that “there is a history of fatal and severe crashes as a result of vehicles veering off the very steep embankment on the north side of Torrey Pines … [which] carries over 60,000 vehicles per day at speeds over 42 mph without any recovery area that would prevent fatal or severe injuries from occurring. It is frequently covered in a marine layer of dense fog since it is so close to the ocean, making visibility of the curve particularly challenging.”

“A safety rail will prevent out-of-control vehicles from falling over the embankment into surrounding homes, hitting fixed objects and striking pedestrians walking along the sidewalk, greatly reducing the risk of fatal and severe crashes at this location,” the report states.

In January 2018, a car careened off Torrey Pines Road onto the hillside, landing in the yard of one of the Coast Walk houses below. No injuries were reported.

The K-rail has been subject to vandalism from graffiti over the years, possibly due to its high visibility.

After the City Council approved the grant funding as an item on the consent agenda — meaning there was no formal presentation — Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said: “This was an issue raised by the community as long as ago as 2007. … I look forward to working with the [city] Transportation Department and working with the community in designing that project and bringing this into fruition. It will provide safety for the cars on Torrey Pines Road but also pedestrians and bicyclists that use that very, very busy corridor.” ◆