For the first time since 1949, a section of the San Diego Electric Railway, double track at that, is exposed for only a short time before it will be destroyed in Hillcrest. They last saw service on April 23, 1949 as a part of the #7 streetcar line. The City of San Diego is currently restoring the 1914 Georgia St bridge over University Ave. As a part of this project, they are also lowering University Ave between Park Blvd and Florida St.
These tracks represent a bit of San Diego history and I highly recommend a visit in the next week or so before they are gone. Remnants of the former railway are getting harder to find as time passes and more roads are torn up for various projects.
The intersection of Howard Avenue and Alabama Street is a fairly normal intersection. Until today, it was a two-way stop where Alabama St stopped for Howard Ave. This configuration hasn’t been all that successful. Since 2005, there have been four collisions, two of them with injuries. Visibility isn’t great and speeding is common. During peak times, particularly afternoons, traffic can back up on Alabama St due to Howard Ave being busier. To make matters worse, changes resulting from the busway on Park Blvd have added to the traffic on Howard Ave.
A few years ago, I petitioned the City of San Diego to install a stop sign at this intersection. I did so following the first collision and after having a few near collisions of my own. The City initially denied the stop, citing a lack of collisions. They did, however, add two red zones at the intersection on Howard Ave to help increase visibility. It helped for a while. People driving on Howard Ave would still honk at those pulling out from Alabama St that had a hard time seeing traffic coming. Two more collisions occurred before I decided to petition the City again a few months ago. Not long after I did this, yet another collision happened.
After I had sent the City the request, I had a phone conversation with the traffic engineer handling the request. I explained the situation, mentioned the collisions, and the pending traffic pattern changes caused by the construction on Park Blvd. They told me they would inspect the intersection and get back to me. In late June, they called me back. This time, the call was to tell me they had approved the stop sign. It seems that with the four collisions, it now qualified for the upgrade. The next day, I saw the traffic engineer marking locations for the limit lines and signs. I spoke with them, thanking them for the approval. In the process, I was also able to convince them to remove the two red zones since they would no longer be necessary. They did agree to remove them and marked the pavement accordingly.
Last Tuesday, July 15, a City crew came out to install signs informing the public that new stop signs would be added soon. Today, July 21, another crew came out to install the signs. I had the chance to speak with them and thank them for coming out. The crew that installed the signs was very friendly and worked quite efficiently. They added the signs, lines, and legends to the intersection as well as cleaned up one of the regulatory signs. It didn’t take long for people to start to stop at the intersection. Pedestrians can now cross the intersection easier, traffic on Alabama St can cross Howard Ave easier, two more parking spots have been added, and traffic is now slowed on Howard Ave.
It has always been my goal to help improve where I live. Those improvements can come in many ways. Getting potholes filled, signs replaced (or even added in this case), cleaning up trash, having graffiti removed, and even helping neighbors when possible are things that anyone can do. I strongly encourage everyone to help improve their neighborhood and make everyone’s lives better. Together, we can all make our cities a great place to live.