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In 2005, two-year old Alexander Arriaga was killed on the railroad tracks on Monterey Road near Blossom Hill Road. An Amtrak train struck him as he chased his baby sitter across the tracks.
On Friday, September 28th, South San Jose residents gathered at those same tracks to celebrate the opening of “Xander’s Crossing”, a bridge dedicated to the life of young Alexander.
‘There have been several tragedies on these tracks over the years. But none have been as tragic as what happened to Xander,” said Ash Kalra, San Jose Councilman for District 2. “This bridge was created in Xander’s memory and to make crossing these tracks safer.”
The project first began under former District 2 Councilmember Forrest Williams’ guidance.
“I remember a time when I saw a woman crossing the track with her kids and a stroller, and I knew it was a tragedy waiting to happen,” Williams said. “I knew that I had to do something to make crossing these tracks safer. So I got to work.”
Williams lobbied for a bridge to be built over the tracks but, to his surprise, there was no money available at the time to build the bridge.
“Unfortunately it took the death of a young boy to get the funding we needed for this bridge,” Williams said. “We received money from the city, county and even the state.”
Kalra inherited the project when he replaced Williams on the City Council, but gives Williams the credit for the bridge’s creation.
“None of this would have been possible without the hard work that Forrest Williams put into this project.”
According to Mark Zabaneh, the bridge cost approximately 6.79 million dollars to create.
“This is an example of what can be accomplished when we listen to the needs of the community,” Zabaneh said.
The bridge is 315 feet long and 10 feet wide with ramps for wheelchair and bicycle access. There is also fencing around the tracks to discourage people from crossing them.
“A lot of the time it can be very difficult to get from point A to point B,” said Michael T. Burns, VTA General Manager. “We want to encourage people to use the bridge for their safety. The bridge will encourage people to go out and be active promoting good health. It will also give them direct access to the many local businesses located in the area.”