On July 29 at noon, it took D.R. Peck six minutes to get on the 15 Freeway — from one block away.
“Whoever created the new signage obviously does not live here, as now there is a massive backup into the 41st Street intersection and beyond,” he said.
Peck, 61, is a teacher who has lived in this part of City Heights for the last nine years. He and his neighbors are upset because of the installation of the “no turn on red” sign before the northbound on ramp.
“Making a left from 41st Street to University Avenue is now impossible,” he said “as the traffic is backed up east of the intersection and one has to go backwards to get in line.”
Frederick Orozco, 27, is the manager of the Aibertos Taco Shop at 3894 41st Street — which is located on the same corner that Peck gets stuck at.
“Ever since they did the new lights [and signs] it’s affected everything bro,” he said, “so like when we get customers, let’s say they are pulling into the drive-through, they can’t do it because [of] all the traffic right there, so it gets backed up even more.”
3894 41st St., City Heights
During Orozco’s interview at about 3:45 p.m on August 3, I saw vehicles stuck in the middle of the intersection (with a red light) coming from both ways on University Avenue. And as Peck explained, traffic was building up down 41st Street to Wightman Street — which caused some motorists to honk their horns and flip the birdies.
“It is normal aggressive behavior when the light is green and the intersection is full,” Peck said, “people cheating red lights, blocking intersections, and no one doing any signaling.”
Orozco claims that he loses lunch-rush sales because of the worsened traffic at the intersection, “during just my shift it will be like $2000 [in losses] approximately.”
Many that work in the area frequent Aibertos’ 24-hour drive-through for its cheap prices and quick-in and quick-out setup. But because of the recent traffic build up — some regulars are thinking twice about rolling through.
“My lunch break is only 30 minutes,” said John, who works out of a garage in City Heights, “[with the traffic] it’s cutting it close.” He was picking up some grub for his co-workers.
Orozco has been working at Aibertos for eight years and said the traffic is at its worst. “They have to fix the traffic lights,” he said.
Peck took the initiative and wrote a letter to Caltrans via their website. Part of it read: “How does one appeal or begin the process to have newly installed signs changed?” I would like a response and a review why at the very least there are not hours that prohibit right turns on a red light.
As of press time, he said, no response was made.
Peck also copied and pasted his letter to his social media which got 15 responses.
“My husband has been complaining about the same sign,” responded one neighbor. “When he leaves for work in the morning at 5:30, he has to sit for five minutes, while inhaling his motorcycle fumes, just for the light to change. I like the idea of the sign having given times where you are not allowed to turn.”
A gentleman from Kensington then gave some hope. “Last month or so the sign at Adams and 15 (two exits north of University Avenue and the 15 Freeway entrance) changed inexplicably from “No Turn Between 6 and 10 a.m.” (or whatever) to “No Turn” period,” he said. “I called Caltrans (619-688-6670) and asked for info [and] no one called me back, but the sign changed back a few days later. I assume other people called as well. I heard later (not sure if it's true) the city made a mistake and forgot to post the separate sign showing the specific hours. Hopefully the city needs to justify this kind of change.”
Others said that the “no turn on red” sign was installed for the safety of the pedestrians and cyclists crossing.
Back in March some of the City Heights neighbors brought up another issue regarding a carcass of a bird stuck on the 15 Freeway sign which is located slightly past the questionable “no turn on red” sign on University Avenue. The residents questioned who was responsible to clean off the dead bird — Caltrans or the City of San Diego?
The bird’s remains are still there.