Hillside Drive regrading project to be completed in the fall, with work done mostly at night, San Diego says

Hillside Drive in La Jolla is pictured May 15 as it awaits regrading at the intersection of Torrey Pines Road.
Hillside Drive in La Jolla is pictured May 15 as it awaits regrading at the intersection of Torrey Pines Road.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

Residents looking forward to the completion of a long-awaited project to regrade La Jolla’s Hillside Drive and reduce — if not stop — the frequency of large trucks getting stuck on the incline will have to wait a bit longer.

With sights on completing the project in the fall, the city of San Diego will pursue a waiver to the summer construction moratorium between Memorial Day and Labor Day, during which no construction can take place in the coastal zone.

Hillside Drive at Torrey Pines Road was closed in April and traffic from Torrey Pines to Hillside was diverted one block west onto Amalfi Street.

Some residents are frustrated by what they see as a lack of progress.

“I live on Amalfi Street and it appears this project has unfortunately come to a standstill after breaking ground five weeks ago,” Flint Locke wrote to the La Jolla Light. “Our neighborhood is severely [upset] once again.”

Steve Hadley, representing the office of City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, said at the May 10 meeting of the La Jolla Shores Association that the project is “taking quite awhile” as crews are “shoveling by hand, almost like an archaeological site.”

City spokesman Tyler Becker said “work is ongoing, mostly at night, and we anticipate this project will be completed in the fall.”

A city website says the project will flatten the Hillside Drive approach to Torrey Pines Road to alleviate bottoming out of vehicles, install a storm drain system, replace concrete street panels and resurface the intersection at Hillside Drive and Amalfi Street.

“Several different utilities and assets were relocated within the construction area in order to accommodate the new storm drain crossing Hillside Drive,” Becker said.

The contractor will continue work on the storm drain this week while the city Public Utilities Department begins relocating the water main crossing Torrey Pines Road, he said.

A truck gets stuck on the Hillside Drive incline from Torrey Pines Road in 2019.
(Carl Doughty)

The regrading project comes after years of large trucks getting stuck in the dip between Hillside Drive and Torrey Pines Road while trying to turn onto Hillside. Previous efforts to stop that from happening have led to flashing signs placed every few feet in all directions leading to the intersection to warn truck drivers of the risk.

However, trucks continued to get stuck and neighbors posted photos on social media of the trucks and subsequent traffic backups.

City efforts to regrade the intersection were originally scheduled to begin in March 2022 but were postponed multiple times. ◆