A black sedan drives across the Blossom Hill Road bridge, with cars going in both directions.
Los Gatos plans to build a pedestrian and cyclist bridge alongside the Blossom Hill Road Bridge, which goes over Highway 17. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

Los Gatos is carving a new path along Blossom Hill Road in the name of public safety.

The Highway 17 Bicycle & Pedestrian Overcrossing project, located between the east and west sections of Roberts Road, will be constructed next to the Blossom Hill Road bridge sitting over the highway. The roughly 20-foot-wide bridge will be designated solely for cyclists and pedestrians. The project aims to increase safety for all travelers, including children walking or biking to nearby schools.

The bridge’s design, created by San Jose-based BKF Engineers, will be finalized in March, and includes paths leading up to the bridge. Los Gatos doled out more than $1 million from the town’s general and traffic mitigation funds and received a more than $2.75 million grant from Measure B — a county transportation sales tax passed in 2016 expected to generate $6.3 billion over 30 years.

The project will break ground in 2025, with completion expected in 2026. Construction is estimated to cost roughly $25 million and will be funded by grants.

Wendy Riggs, Safe Routes to School coordinator in the Los Gatos Union School District, said the district begins teaching street safety in kindergarten and many students cross the Blossom Hill Road bridge to get to and from school. She estimated that of the roughly 450 Raymond J. Fisher Middle School students who walk or bike to school, one-third cross the bridge, which doesn’t have a protected bike lane.

“It’s just a very uncomfortable crossing and for a lot of people it may even be an impediment from allowing their students to (get to) school in that manner,” she told San José Spotlight.

A digital rendering of where the proposed bike and pedestrian bridge will run alongside the Blossom Hill Road bridge over Highway 17 in Los Gatos.
A rendering of the future cyclist and pedestrian bridge in Los Gatos that will sit next to the Blossom Hill Road bridge over Highway 17. Courtesy of Los Gatos.

The project, which began in 2019 as a part of the town’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan, analyzed traffic on Blossom Hill Road, which connects Los Gatos’ east and west sides with speed limits of up to 35 miles per hour. Upward of 63,000 cars and more than 390 pedestrians and cyclists traveled over the bridge each day in 2020, according to the town’s feasibility study. From 2011 to 2019, there were five collisions involving cyclists near the crossing.

Los Gatos resident Jeff Suzuki, a member of the Complete Streets & Transportation Commission, said he biked the Blossom Hill Road bridge to get to school growing up. He experienced some close calls biking along the bridge and knows others who have too.

“(If) it’s a busy day on the street, one slight turn from either the biker or the driver can lead to catastrophe,” he told San José Spotlight.

Los Gatos’ plan aligns with Santa Clara County’s transportation goals. Last year, VTA approved a 10-mile central bikeway between San Jose and Santa Clara, and last month Cupertino began plans to improve safety on one of its busiest corridors.

Sean Rose, special project manager, said the bridge will help connect the town’s biking network and could serve to slow down traffic on Blossom Hill Road because the street will experience minor changes in its lane configuration. He said the new path could also benefit seniors living at Walnut Grove, which is under construction.

“It’ll benefit all users, anyone who’s walking or biking,” he told San José Spotlight.

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

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