The intersection of Leigh Avenue and Blossom Hill Road
The intersection of Blossom Hill Road and Leigh Avenue has seen serious accidents over the last few years. Traffic improvements are in the works. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

Los Gatos resident Inna Zaltsmann knows the dangers of Blossom Hill Road firsthand, with three serious car crashes near her home, including one where her daughter, a nurse, attempted to give CPR to a woman who died.

Residents of a two-story house near the Leigh Avenue and Blossom Hill Road intersection, Zaltsmann and her family have found themselves helping crash victims when drivers collide into pedestrians and other cars. Her family flagged down an ambulance after a man broke his spine in a wreck. Zaltsmann doesn’t let her two young grandchildren play in the front yard and holds them close when she takes them out of the car in the driveway because the road is so dangerous.

“The speed, it’s crazy,” she told San José Spotlight. “It’s really crazy how they try to get through the red light and the turn from (Leigh Avenue).”

Blossom Hill Road, which runs through Los Gatos and San Jose with two lanes on each side, is slated for improvements between Camden and Union avenues following calls from residents like Zaltsmann to make the road safer. That roughly 1.7-mile stretch of the road saw two fatalities last year, which residents said point to a larger problem — drivers exceeding the 35 mph speed limit.

The project is expected to cost $800,000 and will be funded by a $640,000 grant Los Gatos received from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Safe Streets for All program. San Jose and Los Gatos will split the remaining cost, each paying $80,000.

The project is expected to be completed by fall 2025, but has no set construction timeline yet. Los Gatos will conduct traffic studies and public outreach to determine the best safety improvements, town officials said.

San Jose resident Richard Zhang, who has lived on Blossom Hill Road since 2019, said he’s glad the project is in motion as another neighbor who’s been negatively affected by speeders.

In 2020, a driver flipped after hitting and totaling Zhang’s car parked on the street. He said he doesn’t let his children play in the front yard without his supervision.

“It is better to control the speed of the traffic so that way the children living on the street (are) safer,” he told San José Spotlight.

A two-story house slanted down from street level
Richard Zhang used to park his car in front of his house on Blossom Hill Road until it was totaled by a reckless driver in 2020. He said he doesn’t let his children play in the front yard without his supervision. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

Blossom Hill Road has a history of crashes.

From 2018 to 2023, there were six fatalities on the San Jose stretch of the road, with 32 people severely injured, according to data from San Jose’s transportation department. There were 500 collisions on the street in San Jose from 2018 to 2022, according to Vision Zero crash data.

San Jose designated Blossom Hill Road as a priority safety corridor under its Vision Zero program, which aims to reduce and end traffic injuries and fatalities. The city has begun placing quick-build safety measures along streets that intersect with Blossom Hill Road, including upping the visibility of crosswalk striping at Harwood Road and Leigh Avenue. It plans to add a radar speed sign on Copeland Lane in the westbound direction this summer as an extra safety precaution while the project is worked out.

The project will add to Los Gatos’ goal for safe roads, which includes plans to construct a bike and pedestrian bridge over Highway 17 on Blossom Hill Road.

Los Gatos Councilmember Maria Ristow said residents have voiced their ongoing concerns about the road’s safety to her. She hopes the project can “do something to create a calmer, safer-feeling road in their neighborhood.”

“The Blossom Hill Road residents deserve to be heard and (have) their needs addressed,” she told San José Spotlight.

Zhang and Zaltsmann, along with other neighbors, said they look forward to the safety improvements, but don’t want them to impede traffic flow, making it difficult for them to back out of their driveways.

Zaltsmann is against turning the street from two lanes to one lane on each side, an idea she’s heard floating in the community even though no plans have been finalized. She wants a balance between safety and traffic flow.

“That’s the worst thing because then the traffic will be crazy and it will not help,” she said. “When there is no traffic, they will still rush through.”

San Jose Councilmember Pam Foley, who represents District 9 where parts of Blossom Hill Road are, helped spearhead the beginnings of the project and is a strong proponent of Vision Zero. She said she will always choose safety over speed, especially after hearing of a mother who died from a hit and run while walking with her 11-year-old daughter in a crosswalk on Blossom Hill Road a little over a year ago.

“Anytime a decision comes down to saving lives, slowing down traffic, or causing someone to drive five miles an hour faster to get to their destination quicker, I’m always going to come down on the side of saving lives,” Foley told San José Spotlight. “Ultimately, my concern is pedestrian safety.”

Contact Annalise Freimarck at [email protected] or follow @annalise_ellen on X, formerly known as Twitter.

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