This dangerous San Jose intersection is set for an overhaul after deadly hit-and-runs

An exceptionally dangerous San Jose intersection that has been the site of multiple hit-and-run crashes this year is headed for an overhaul.

As part of a new pilot program endorsed by city leaders on Tuesday, the city plans to install barriers near the intersection of Monterey Road and Curtner Avenue with the hopes of making the area safer for pedestrians.

This year alone, seven people have died on Monterey Road; six of those deaths were caused by hit-and-runs, according to police and data compiled by this news organization.

“We owe it to our residents, we owe it to the families of the victims to try it out and see what we learn,” Councilmember Maya Esparza said about the pilot program. “If it helps, then maybe we can look at the other Vision Zero corridors in our city. If it doesn’t, then we need to go on to the next thing. But we owe it to our residents to try.”

Monterey Road — a major Santa Clara County thoroughfare that runs from San Jose down to Gilroy — was previously identified by San Jose officials as one of more than a dozen safety priority corridors targeted for roadway improvement projects.

Historically, a disproportionately high number of traffic deaths and severe injuries have occurred on the road, partially because of its use as an arterial roadway in South Santa Clara County. That use can often bring cars traveling at highway speeds into densely populated areas of San Jose.

Six years after the city launched its Vision Zero initiative, aimed at eliminating traffic fatalities on city streets, lives continue to be lost on Monterey Road.

Just last month, 59-year-old San Jose resident Ronald Chavez was walking across the northbound lanes of Monterey Road north of the Tully/Curtner intersection the afternoon of Aug. 4 when he was hit by a motorist who was later arrested on suspicion of felony hit-and-run.

At the same intersection, 37-year-old Vanessa Ann Arce, who was using a wheelchair, was killed on April 1 and 64-year-old Paula Price, who was using a walker, was killed on April 28 — both by hit-and-run drivers. The San Jose Police Department last month released surveillance video from a nearby gas station in hopes of catching the driver of a white 2004-2010 model Mercedes-Benz CLS who struck Arce, but no arrests have been made to date.

Under the new pilot program, transportation officials plan to install a painted chainlink fence in the median area along Monterey Road to discourage midblock pedestrian crossing.  Transportation Director John Aiken estimated that the project will cost the city up to $45,000, and said he expected that the fence would be installed toward the beginning of 2022. The city will also explore the potential of installing cameras at the intersection that could record any future hit-and-run crashes, should they occur.

Because unhoused residents, who were among the recent victims, are at an elevated risk of getting injured or killed while living on the streets, the city’s housing department will also work with transportation officials to expand their outreach to those living in encampments near the dangerous intersection and educate them about proper traffic safety precautions.

A map shows the streets that have been deemed as Vision Zero safety priority corridors within San Jose. 

San Jose councilmembers all agreed that the program was worth the city’s resources and funding.

“Our goal should be to prevent incidents like this, so the barriers and other physical things that we can do to prevent incidents should be our primary objective,” said Councilmember David Cohen.

Family and friends of Arce, who was killed at the intersection in April, attended Tuesday’s city council meeting to voice their support for the safety improvements as well.

“We have a daughter without a mother and we have a mother without a daughter because of the way these people drive on this one particular road and they lost her because of this issue,” said Manny Ortega.

Anyone with information about the city’s unsolved hit-and-run deaths can contact the SJPD traffic investigations unit at 408-277-4654 or leave a tip with Silicon Valley Crime Stoppers at 408-947-7867 or at svcrimestoppers.org.

Go to Source
Author: Maggie Angst

EastBayTimes