Residents demand to know: What’s holding up Torrey Pines Road corridor project?
BY SHELLI DEROBERTIS
The $26.5 million Torrey Pines Road Corridor Project, approved in July 2011, has residents wondering if it hit a roadblock, since after one year, the only action taken to improve public safety along the busy thoroughfare has been the installation of two radar speed indicators in January by Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s office.
For more than a decade, committees have been rallying for project plans to slow traffic and improve pedestrian and bicycle access along Torrey Pines Road. To that end, the city has received $1.1 million in federal stimulus and transportation sales tax funds.
But no work has been done on the project’s first approved phase, “Segment 4,” which begins at Little Street to La Jolla Shores Drive and includes the placement of a sidewalk, fence, median and plantable retaining wall.
“We have not heard of any updates since seven months ago when the V-calms were installed,” said Sherry Nooravi, spokeswoman for an ad hoc Torrey Pines Corridor neighborhood group. “So many of us have been working on this and keeping in touch with our city officials, but the dangers on the roadway continue.”
Robert McCue lives on Amalfi Street, on the south side of Torrey Pines Road, and remembers when the road was a quiet, two-lane highway in the 1950s and people could easily ride their bicycles to The Village, he said. McCue has been lobbying for improvements on Torrey Pines Road for several years. He said he’s been trying to get an update on the project, but his last two calls to the city have not been returned.
Lightner’s office replied to the La Jolla Light’s inquiries, and through her representative, Erin Demorest, said the city has the funding to perform two sidewalk projects in Segment 4, but the plans must be designed. The city received $600,000 from two TransNet funds installments in 2011 and 2012 that will be used to remove sidewalk obstructions along the north side of Torrey Pines Road from Prospect Place to La Jolla Shores Drive.
The money will also cover costs to install a new sidewalk between Calle Juela and Roseland on the south side of Torrey Pines Road, Demorest said in an e-mail. “It will take approximately one year to do the design for these two things, which is why the construc- tion on these two sidewalk im- provements is scheduled to start in 2013,” Demorest said.
Segment 4, of the four phases that make up the Torrey Pines Road Corridor Project, has a price tag of $5.8 million and will be the first to undergo improvements beginning at Little Street to La Jolla Shores Drive.
The city has $220,00 remaining from the $500,000 federal stimulus received in 2009 for the original preliminary design of the entire project, and the remaining money is being used to begin work on the design of Segment 4, according to Demorest. After the sidewalk improvements are completed, the remaining work for Segment 4 will include the installation of a median, bike lanes, landscaping, new fencing on the north side of Torrey Pines Road, reconfiguration of the lane widths, a retaining wall, and more — but funding hasn’t been identified for the design and implementation of this project portion yet, she said.
The V-calm speed indicators are on Torrey Pines Road at Viking Way and Amalfi Street, along the inbound and outbound routes to The Village. They cost $7,000 each and were purchased with savings from Councilmember Lightner’s office budget, according to Demorest.
The signs are programmed to read speeds above the 35 mph speed limit, and flash speeds detected above 45 mph in attempt to calm traffic on the busy thoroughfare. Demorest said there was also some transverse pavement striping installed on Torrey Pines Road between Viking Way and Coast Walk in November 2009. The striping is intended to give motorists the illusion they are speeding, with the hope they will slow down, she said. But the problem for some residents won’t be solved until the project is complete.
Resident Dave Duea has lived in La Jolla for 20 years and said he and his wife live on Sierra Mar Drive and there is no way to cross the street to go to The Shores or The Village. “We have to walk up to Hillside Drive, five blocks, to cross at Prospect Street, ” Duea said, advocating for a crosswalk at Hillside Drive and Torrey Pines. “That’s all we really want is a crosswalk and a flashing yellow sign,” he said. “In reality, we as residents are locked into taking our vehicles anywhere we go in town,” he said.
Segment 2 of the project includes a possible signal in the area of Coast Walk to Viking Way and Hillside Drive. Kathleen Ferrier, policy manager for Walk San Diego, an organization that helps communities receive funding to produce walkable streets, helped the Bird Rock neighborhood receive the roundabouts on La Jolla Boulevard in 2008.
She said that crossing the street is often not considered on a long corridor such as Torrey Pines Road. “We advocate a crossing at every 300 to 350 feet,” she said. The city has a threshold that requires crossing every 600 feet.
“I wear a traffic jacket and carry a light to go to dinner in The Shores,” Duea said.