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Finding funds for Torrey Pines Road

La Jollans have spoken: They want the

Torrey Pines Road

corridor beautified and improved.

After the 2003 completion of “the Throat” - the confluence of La Jolla Parkway/Torrey Pines Road and Hidden Valley Road/La Jolla Shores/Torrey Pines Road - all of the local community planning groups, along with the office of Council District One, requested city transportation planning staff to determine what improvements are needed on Torrey Pines Road, west of La Jolla Shores Drive.

Transportation planning staff agreed to conduct a corridor study that would also include safety issues and walkability along the Torrey Pines corridor. The corridor limits were determined to be between La Jolla Parkway and Girard Avenue.

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Now that the study is complete, it is time to find funding for the costly, long-term project.

“It’s a little bit of a process,” said Council President Scott Peters representing the First District. “We have to get this to the City Council to approve it, and it has to happen over the next few months.”

“The entire plan is in the millions of dollars,” said Peters’ aide, Keely Sweeney, “and they’ll never be able to do it all at once. The hope is to do it in bite-size pieces.”

Peters said there might be one city fund that could be tapped into to begin Torrey Pines Corridor improvements. “For capital improvement, we can use development impact fees,” he said.

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“A lot of people have put a lot of work into this (Torrey Pines improvement),” added Sweeney, “and I think we can get it kicked off by the end of the year.”

A Torrey Pines Road Corridor Study Committee has established the following goals for the long-term project: enhance safety, slow down traffic, promote walkability and beautify and enhance access to view corridors.

Longtime La Jolla architect and community planner Robert Thiele has been shepherding the project through the community planning process and hopes to secure funding for it at the next level through the city by year’s end.

“This is a great legacy project for Scott Peters and a great contribution to the community of La Jolla,” Thiele said.

Thiele said the “limited project scope” only includes the landscaping of areas at Amalfi Street and between Little Street and Roseland Drive. “Currently the chain link fences with fabric covering are blocking community views established in the Community Plan,” he said. “All the community groups are in favor of the proposed landscape improvements, and hope a consensus on who is going to pay for the maintenance can be reached.”

Thiele agreed with Peters that improvement costs should come from the development impact fees for La Jolla. “The maintenance costs should come from Promote La Jolla,” he added. “New sources of revenue need to be generated to pay the $1,000 to $1,200 a month maintenance costs. This could come from an increase in the Business Improvement District (BID) assessment or from an initial source of revenue generated from a valet tax - 10 cents a car would probably do it.”

Siavash Pazargadi, a senior city traffic engineer, has been involved in laying the planning groundwork to launch Torrey Pines Road Corridor’s future improvement. The planning framework is embodied in the Torrey Pines Corridor Study Report that was more than two years in the making.

“Both the City Council and staff are working to see exactly how to bring this project into fruition,” said Pazargadi, “to get some of these recommendations in the Torrey Pines Corridor Study Report implemented.”

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Other proposed features of Torrey Pines Road Corridor’s improvement specified in the Torrey Pines Corridor Study Report would include:

  • Having a minimum of 5-foot-wide unobstructed sidewalks on the north side of Torrey Pines Road.
  • Slope reconstruction along the south side of the Torrey Pines Road where needed.
  • Construction of a 10-foot-wide median in the center of Torrey Pines Road in such a way as to allow emergency vehicles to drive over it.
  • Creation of 4- to 5-foot-wide continuous marked bike lanes recommended along each side of Torrey Pines Road.
  • Installation of traffic-calming devices such as “V Calm” speed indicators recommended at two locations - east of Amalfi Street for eastbound traffic and just west of St. Louis Terrace for westbound traffic - displaying the speed of approaching vehicles to slow them down.
  • Installation of another traffic-calming device, transverse pavement marking patterns, creating the illusion of increasing speed in both directions ahead of proposed unmarked pedestrian crossings at Amalfi Street and St. Louis Terrace.
  • Landscaping Little Street Park.
  • Replacing worn-out fencing throughout the Torrey Pines corridor.
  • Relocating light poles and signage outside of sidewalk areas.
  • Constructing a new pocket park to include a bus stop and landscape pallet, similar to Little Street Park, at Amalfi Street.