For many La Mesa residents (and visitors) accustomed to driving east along La Mesa Boulevard from University Avenue into the “village” area, it is unclear why ongoing construction eliminated the well-used right-turn lane at the intersection of La Mesa Boulevard and Acacia Avenue.
The now-eliminated turn lane allowed drivers to turn right onto Acacia Avenue, bypassing the two-and-a-half-block business area just prior to Spring Street. Drivers could, without delaying or impeding those desiring to continue on La Mesa Boulevard, avoid the congestion of the village (businesses, trolley station, and stoplight at Spring Street), access the residential areas of Mount Nebo by driving up Acacia Avenue, and proceed to a right turn to head south on Spring Street.
Additionally, when the right-turn lane existed, those desiring to turn left at the La Mesa Boulevard-Acacia Avenue intersection did so without delaying those wanting to turn right. The recent construction has removed the lane in favor of widening the sidewalk so it sticks out into what was the turn lane. Benches, a light pole, and three upright columns now occupy the former turn lane.
Prior to the current construction, those desiring to visit the village could stay in the left lane and those desiring to avoid it could avail themselves of the right-turn lane. Now, both groups of drivers, as well as those seeking to turn left at the intersection, are required to use a single lane at the stop sign. This occurs when approaching this area in two lanes from the stoplight at the intersection of Normal Avenue and La Mesa Boulevard, a block away. Traffic is required to merge into one lane as the road bends to the left.
Gregory Humora, La Mesa's director of Public Works and city engineer, provided the following explanation: “When reconstructing intersections we look for opportunities to make improvements for all modes of transportation, including, cars, bikes, and pedestrians. La Mesa residents desire cars to go slower and this is accomplished through traffic calming. La Mesa residents also want their streets to be walkable.
"The La Mesa 2012 General Plan Policy CE-1.1.18 states that a ‘Complete Streets’ approach is to be applied to transportation improvement projects. Most intersections were previously designed primarily for automobiles. There is a balance that needs to be struck so that each mode can safely share the available space.
“The intersection of La Mesa Boulevard and Acacia Avenue is also a gateway to the Downtown Village. Gateways to the Village are being enhanced so that people will know that they are entering the Downtown Village area, which may require additional awareness because of the increased potential for additional bikes and pedestrians. To accommodate the above policies and desires, the vehicular portion of the intersection is being narrowed to reduce the pedestrian crossing distance making the intersection safer and more walkable.”