SAN JOSE -- A pedestrian bridge in South San Jose will soon offer easy public access to a popular shopping center at a dangerous location where a toddler was fatally struck by an Amtrak train nearly seven years ago.
The Blossom Hill Pedestrian Overcrossing Bridge will be open to the public following a ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. Friday, according to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. Among the people scheduled to speak is Nicole Wilson, a former San Jose resident whose 2-year-old son Alexander Arriaga was struck by an Amtrak train in November 2005, near where the bridge now crosses.
The ceremony will take place at Lowe's on Cottle Road; the back of the store's parking lot sits next to the bridge.
The $10 million cherry-colored bridge, which spans about 315 feet over Monterey Road near Blossom Hill Road, is being named in Alexander's honor and will be called "Xander's Crossing."
The bridge, which has been in place for about three weeks, is connected to two ramps that sit on opposite ends of Monterey Road near Blossom Hill Road.
The project was paid for through city, state and federal funds. The steel bridge offers access to pedestrians and cyclists and is wheelchair accessible. Construction began in March 2011.
In November 2005, Alexander's mother, Nicole Wilson, left her two young sons with their regular baby sitter while she worked a shift at Toys R Us. The sitter left the boys
The sitter's friend, Katrina Hatton, walked the two boys across the tracks near Monterey Highway and Blossom Hill Road, then went back across the tracks to get her own daughter, who was in a stroller. Alexander tried to follow her and was hit by an oncoming Amtrak superliner.
Hatton was sentenced to probation and community service for her role in Alexander's death.
San Jose city and transportation leaders promised at a news conference in 2008 to build the pedestrian crossing but the project was delayed because nearly $7 million from state Proposition 1B transit funding was late in coming, according to District 2 Councilman Ash Kalra's office.
The location is a popular shortcut from a neighborhood to a shopping center, and the site of other deaths. High school students and cyclists regularly hoist their bikes over the tracks; the nearest pedestrian crossing is a half-mile away.
Contact Mark Gomez at 408-920-5869. Follow him at Twitter.com/MarkMgomez.