Silverado circle off drawing board

The good news coming out of October’s Traffic & Transportation (TNT) Committee meeting last week was that $800,000 will not be spent on design of the controversial traffic circle at Silverado and Prospect streets and Draper Avenue.

The bad news though, is those funds can’t be diverted to the long-term, multi-million dollar renovation of Torrey Pines Road Corridor, an action many La Jollans had been hoping for.

At previous community advisory group meetings, some residents had voiced displeasure about moving ahead with the Silverado project when funding is needed for the Torrey Pines Corridor. They have said the corridor project should be higher priority because it calls for putting sidewalks and signals along the busy La Jolla entryway to facilitate pedestrian crossing and access which has become a major problem given the roadway’s high-speed traffic flow.

TNT Chairman Todd Lesser said a meeting between District 1 Councilwoman Sherri Lightner’s office, La Jolla community planners and city officials recently produced results.

“The Silverado traffic circle has been shelved based on community feedback,” he said. “But using that money, diverting it to the Torrey Pines Corridor, that cannot be done.”

Lesser added funding couldn’t be shifted because “there was no money specifically devoted to this project. The city was going to borrow money.”

Lesser said he also wanted to dispel rumors that the Torrey Pines project is already in the design phase.

“It’s in the pre-design phase with $500,000 devoted to it,” he said, adding proposed improvements are a multi-faceted plan likely to take years to fulfill. “The scope of that project involves slope stabilization, stormwater diversion, things that are going to require a lot of money and going to take some time.”

From the audience, Bird Rock resident and community planner Mike Costello asked if it might be possible to use federal stimulus funds to help pay for work along Torrey Pines.

“Federal stimulus funds can only be used for projects that are construction-ready,” answered Lesser. “This project’s just not there. It’s pre-design.”

The corridor project envisions beautification and improvement to the thoroughfare between La Jolla Shores and the Village. The project was approved in concept by the City Council in November 2008, but funding remains an unresolved issue.

At a June 17 meeting on reviving the plan, residents registered their top priority: enhancing pedestrian safety.

It was also suggested that forming a Maintenance Assessment District, wherein citizens tax themselves to support public improvements, might be one way to raise the funds necessary to do the project.

Improvements suggested For the busy thoroughfare include adding guardrails, bollards and sidewalks; constructing a 10-foot-wide, two-way left-lane median in the center of Torrey Pines west of Viking Way; creating a marked bike lane and new V-calm speed indicators; installing transverse striping pavement markers in both directions to discourage speeding; new lighting, landscaping and fencing; creating a view corridor; and adding signage.