Blossom Hill Road crossing of Monterey Highway and the railroad
Restore walking and bicycling facilities on this bridge in San Jose!
Each of the next three photos can be clicked to go to a page with more details and photos on that topic.
Above photo: San Jose eliminated pedestrian facilities for more traffic. See former shoulder line on bridge and notice the new line, and that
the shoulder is now TOO NARROW for pedestrians and bicyclists. [Click for "Deception-Destruction" photo series.]
Above photo: Capitol Expressway bridge, just two miles north, is
proof that safety improvements can be made promptly at nominal-cost. [Click for "Capitol bridge" photo series.]
The first safety improvement was by MTS in 1997. MTS' efforts forced County Roads to rermove their illegal "pedestrians prohibited" signs, thus allowing pedestrians to use the bike lanes on the bridge
rather than force them to step across the tracks and also to cross Monterey Road at-grade.
The second safety improvement was by County Roads creating the staircase shortcut in the year 2000, along with the sidewalk, to further encouraged use of the bridge.
Bridges are the safest type of crossing.
Above photo: Corrections to San Jose DOT's poor roadway design, such as
zebra striped shoulders, can be made promptly at low cost. More corrective options are depicted in the "Corrections" photo series.]
Click any photo to open a page of photos that illustrates the above points.
After viewing the three photo series, the following becomes clear:
Deception is used against pedestrians by San Jose's roadway design. The
poor roadway design encourages pedestrians to cross the tracks by:
- The formal crosswalk with pedestrian signaling from Monterey Road
ending at the tracks, with no other destination except to cross the
- From the other side of the tracks, the sidewalk from Cottle Road
ends with no continuation of this sidewalk except to the sidewalk of
Monterey Highway (east side) on the other side of the tracks.
- Both the crosswalk and the sidewalk "meet" if drawing a line, expecting pedestrians to cross the tracks.
- Lack of any practical alternatives, due to San Jose DOT eliminating them (described next).
San Jose eliminated existing pedestrian facilities at this location, as follows:
- County Road G10, which was Blossom Hill Road and Cottle Road,
crossed the tracks at grade, until sometime after 1970. This railroad
crossing had the following safety feature for pedestrians:
- Train horn sounded by approaching train.
- Crossing guards went down.
- Flashing red lights turned on.
- Bells sounded.
- All these safety features were removed when San Jose decided to
build the existing Blossom Hill bridge, apparently expecting pedestrians to
use the bridge.
- San Jose eliminated existing pedestrian facilities on the bridge
in 2003. Either or both sides of the bridge could be used today by
pedestrians if it were not for poor roadway redesign that ignored
bicyclists and pedestrians.
- On the south side of the bridge (eastbound), a portion of the
shoulder was made so narrow, it cannot be used by bicyclists and
pedestrians, The shoulder width was changed from 8 feet (wide enough for
parking) to less than human body width, in 2003.
- Katrina Hatton, going eastbound on Blossom Hill Road —which is
not a freeway but a 40 mph arterial road— could have used this shoulder
for a safe bridge crossing if San Jose had not eliminated it. The north
side of the bridge (westbound) has missing shoulder segments and a sign
prohibiting pedestrians and bicycles, albeit illegally. "No
Trespassing" signs were recently posted to prevent pedestrians from
accessing the bridge.
Capitol Expressway bridge: proof that safety improvements can be made promptly at low-cost.
- Capitol Expressway also crosses Monterey Highway and the
railroad, two miles north. These were constructed in 2000 after a
railroad crossing fatality there and the County settled the resulting
lawsuit. It is proof of what can be done on the very similar Blossom
Hill bridge, and what San Jose should have done in 2003, instead of
making the bridge even more dangerous for pedestrians and bicyclists.
- This crossing at Capitol uses several types of facilities, as shown in the photos.
- Corrections to San Jose DOT's poor roadway design on Blossom Hill Road bridge.
- There are several alternatives, including combinations of
alternatives, for correcting San Jose DOT's poor roadway design on
Blossom Hill Road bridge. These are (in order of least to more
- Paint shoulder lines for pedestrians to form a "bike lane" which is
also legal for pedestrians to use where adjacent sidewalks are lacking (CVC
21966). Same, and add "zebra striping" as already done on part of the
bridge. (See photo.)
- Same, and add "reflective pavement makers." (See photo.)
- Create a pedestrian dirt path along the ramps. Once created, pedestrians will use it. (See photo of dirt paths on Capitol.)
- Create a very cheap sidewalk on the top of the bridge and/or
the ramps by only putting in a free-standing curb. This is called
"asphalt berm" or "concrete berm". (See photos.)
- Create an asphalt sidewalk on the ramps. (See Capitol ramp photo.)
- Create a staircase at two locations. (See Capitol bridge photo.)
- Create a sidewalk on top of the bridge. This can make use of
the concrete berm if previously placed. (Note that raising the height
of pedestrians may necessitate also raising the height of the railing, the
case for Capitol bridge.)
- San Jose should IMMEDIATELY INFORM THE RAILROAD (Caltrain and
Union Pacific) TO SOUND TRAIN HORNS (as they once did at this crossing)
when approaching Blossom Hill Road/Cottle Road, until one or more of
these are accomplished.
San Jose DOT has ignored safety warnings for years by MTS and others
Here is a quote of the 2003 letter to San Jose DOT from the Modern Transit Society:
"The alternative [to using the bridge]
today is to walk across the RR tracks with no signaling or whistle
blowing. A similar situation on Monterey & Capitol about two years
ago resulted in a ped getting killed by a train and the County settling
the lawsuit. As a result, Dan Collen [County Roads Department] put in a
sidewalk on the bridge."
The letter is posted here: http://moderntransit.org/blossomhill/blossomhill2003.pdf
There are two conclusions:
Prevent more fatalities by prompt, low cost actions by San Jose DOT, as described.
SJ DOT, not Katrina Hatton, is where the blame should be for the recent fatality.
Google aerial or street map (then click "street" or "hybrid" for street names or zoom in by clicking "+")
Stop banning bicycles and pedestrians from bridges! Stop destroying bicycle / pedestrian facilities!
(This page was created long before the recent fatality).
Katrina Hatton Case Network Web Page
Modern Transit Society home page
MTS warning to SJ DOT about the danger, in 2003: http://moderntransit.org/blossomhill/blossomhill2003.pdf
Our 2003-created web page on Blossom Hill Road bridge.
Recent: Here is our recently emailed letter to Council member Forrest Williams, which has more details:
Further information from MTS regarding this fatality: Death resulted by walking facility removed from Blossom Hill Road bridge
For a copy of the above outline: download pdf file or rtf file.
Akos Szoboszlay, President, Modern Transit Society: 408 221 0694 (mobile). For email, see MTS contacts page.
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