East San Jose walking trail will be expanded
An old railroad line in San Jose is being converted to create the Five Wounds Trail for walking and biking. Photo by Jason Torres Iraheta.

    Twenty years after East San Jose residents began advocating for more open spaces in their community, city leaders have completed a key step in expanding the neighborhood’s celebrated Five Wounds Trail.

    The San Jose City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to acquire the final parcel of land needed to complete the trail from VTA at no cost. This will extend Five Wounds Trail to 2.17 miles of walking and biking paths, with a goal of being completed and open to the public by 2031.

    Councilmember Domingo Candelas praised the yearslong collaborative effort between multiple government agencies and local organizations.

    “It’s been a long time coming,” Candelas said. “I’m super excited to be moving forward and ultimately, and eventually, taking the trail from District 8 all the way to the future BART Station.”

    The trail, which runs from Coyote Creek to Silver Creek, will be extended from East Williams Street to the future site of the Little Portugal BART Station, which over the years has faced a myriad of delays and added layers of scrutiny. It’s anticipated to be completed in the next decade.

    Bill Rankin, president of local nonprofit Save Our Trails, is a longtime supporter of the expansion project. In a letter to Mayor Matt Mahan, Rankin wrote the trail extension will offer recreation, transportation, dignity and safety to East San Jose residents.

    “San Jose has one of the best trail systems in the country and the Five Wounds Trail is a critical connection in the city,” Rankin said at the meeting.

    The land is the site of a former railroad line and could cost the city roughly $5 million to rid the soil of lead and arsenic contamination, according to an Aug. 29 memo by Nanci Klein, the city’s director of economic development. The Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority and Santa Clara County Parks intend to contribute $500,000 each to the project by the end of the year, in exchange for restrictions on development of the land, the memo read.

    Expansion of the trail has been a point of contention between local advocates and the city for at least a decade, with no finalized plan being passed by officials until now—despite council approval of an earlier version of the current proposal in 2013.

    Klein told San José Spotlight the trail construction will be completed in phases and happen alongside the laying of BART tracks. She hopes neighbors will use the trail as a way to commute to work and for spending time with each other outdoors.

    The overarching goal for Five Wounds Trail is much bigger—connecting all of San Jose’s trails together to eventually create a network that leads all the way to San Francisco, she said.

    “In our city’s history we have underinvested in East San Jose,” Klein told San José Spotlight. “This is an opportunity in a very significant way to add beautiful trails with foliage. It’s a happy thing.”

    Contact Jeremy Hoang at [email protected] or follow @jeremy_h77 on Twitter.

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