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La Jolla board backs traffic measures for Via Capri

Broken concrete is one reason driving on Via Capri is dangerous, some residents say.
(Courtesy of Sven Zabka)

Suggested measures to calm traffic along Via Capri won unanimous support this week from the La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board following a presentation last month about the road’s dangers.

“We’re really looking for the city to make this a priority,” T&T Chairman Brian Earley said during the group’s virtual meeting April 20.

La Jollan Sven Zabka presented suggestions in March intended to alleviate what he said were dangerous road conditions for motorists and pedestrians.

The endorsed measures are repaving Via Capri entirely; restriping it to reduce lane width from 12½ feet to 11 feet; adding buffered bike lanes; and repairing or replacing the three solar-powered signs that warn drivers to slow down.

At T&T’s March meeting, Zabka said speeding cars, road rage, tailgating and mailbox destruction by careless drivers need to be curbed. He referenced a settlement last month in which the city of San Diego paid $1.32 million to the daughters of a man who died in 2020 from injuries suffered when his motorcycle hit a pothole and crashed on Via Capri near Rue Michael in 2014.

Zabka was unable to attend the April 20 meeting, but Earley reiterated the concerns and said the suggestion to limit speed on Via Capri would be preferable to more serious accidents and cheaper than legal settlements.

The repaving is necessary due to the “broken cookie” state of disrepair along the surface of Via Capri, Earley said.

Once repaving is finished — the cost of which would largely be taken up by San Diego Gas & Electric after its current Tidelands 673 project to upgrade power cables under Via Capri is completed — the road will need to be restriped, which also is in SDG&E’s plan.

Restriping the road to narrow traffic lanes to the minimum 11-foot width “would help promote the slowing of traffic,” Earley said.

Adding Class II bike lanes — delineated by pavement striping and signage — on both sides of Via Capri would be low-cost, Earley said, as would fixing the solar-powered signs.

Will Rhatigan of the San Diego County Bicycle Coalition said he supports the designs presented, adding that cyclists who want to stray into vehicle lanes to have more space from the curb when going downhill are legally entitled to do so.

T&T board member Tom Brady said the traffic-calming measures are “long overdue” but expressed disappointment that speed limit enforcement wasn’t mentioned.

“I really think for long-term safety within the city, for bicyclists on tough streets like Via Capri, that we really need to think of the technology that’s available” for speed enforcement, he said.

Other T&T news

SDG&E project: Representatives of SDG&E gave an update on the Tidelands 673 project, which began in October and is projected to be finished by the end of the year.

The project will replace about three miles of power lines between the Rose Canyon substation near Gilman Court and the top of Mount Soledad by way of Via Capri and connect to an existing package of lines down Nautilus Street to a substation at Eads Avenue and Pearl Street.

Chris Vargas, municipal infrastructure advisor for SDG&E’s Public Affairs Department, said the project’s benefits include enhanced safety and reliability of the electric infrastructure transmission system; minimizing potential power outages; modernizing electrical equipment; improved system performance; and reducing overall costs to ratepayers associated with potential power outages.

Phase 1 of SDG&E's Tidelands 673 project is nearing completion.
(Courtesy of San Diego Gas & Electric)

Vargas said Phase 1 of the project, which includes work along Nautilus and Fay to Eads, is nearing completion.

Phase 2 is underway, with pothole surveys and trench excavation taking place along La Jolla Scenic Drive South and Via Capri.

Phase 3, in which SDG&E will dig horizontally under La Jolla Parkway, is awaiting permits from the city, Vargas said.

Bernadette Butkiewicz, SDG&E regional public affairs manager, said delays in permitting may push completion of the TL673 project to 2023 and that work in areas of La Jolla affected by the summer construction moratorium will not occur until allowed.

Vinh Huynh, project manager and lead engineer on TL673, said SDG&E hired an outside company to help with traffic control to ensure traffic keeps flowing amid lane closures.

Once work is complete, SDG&E will abide by the city’s standards for street resurfacing and restoration, Huynh said. That means asphalt replacement must be done “one foot outside our trench line,” with anything on concrete surfaces replaced with concrete.

Huynh said restriping the streets will take place in accord with the city’s guidelines and that any changes to the current striping will be directed by the city.

Hatch lid replacement: Project manager Jericho Gallardo said the city will replace a hatch lid for a water-pressure-reducing station in the southwest part of the intersection of Soledad Avenue and Hillside Drive.

This hatch lid at the intersection of Soledad Avenue and Hillside Drive needs replacing, San Diego officials say.
(Courtesy of city of San Diego)

The new hatch lid will meet “continuous traffic loading requirements,” Gallardo said. The current lid “wasn’t appropriate due to traffic in the area” and has become deformed.

The project will begin in late May or early June, he said, with work taking place between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Completion is expected by summer.

Driveway access will be maintained, and workers will be stationed along the affected streets to alert drivers, Gallardo said. A K-rail barrier will be placed around the work zone to protect workers. On-street parking in the area may be impacted, he said.

Affected road surfaces and curbs will be restored when the project is finished, Gallardo said.

Truck access to the project will be through Soledad Avenue, not Hillside Drive, to prevent the possibility of trucks getting stuck on Hillside at the intersection of Torrey Pines Road, Gallardo added.

Next meeting: The La Jolla Traffic & Transportation Board next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, online or at a location to be determined. To learn more, email bearley1@san.rr.com.