Cars sit still at an intersection, behind a crosswalk under a cloudy blue sky.
King Road in San Jose is slated for safety and traffic improvements. Photo by Annalise Freimarck.

One of San Jose’s most dangerous roads is gearing up for a major upgrade.

King Road, a six-mile street bounded by Berryessa Road to the north and East Capitol Expressway to the south, is slated for improvements. The city’s transportation department is finalizing a plan that targets safety and traffic flow. From 2018 to 2023, eight people, including an infant, were killed on King Road and 21 were seriously injured due to collisions from 2018 to 2022, according to city data.

Rosie Lopez, manager of medical clinic Milagros de México, located at the intersection of Story Road and King Road, said the street needs more safety features to address its danger.

“(Drivers) don’t keep their distance,” she told San José Spotlight. “There’s no safety.”

The plan — funded with more than $399,000 from a Caltrans grant and more than $51,700 from the city — will be a collaboration between San Jose and Vision Zero, a program aimed at reducing and ending traffic injuries and fatalities. The draft includes improvements for the entire street, such as a median at some sections of the road, a bus and emergency vehicle-only lane and more crosswalks. The average distance between crosswalks is roughly 1,000 feet, Project Manager Wilson Tam said, which is about a five-minute walk.

The city began working out the plan in December 2022, and officials have heard from more than 500 community members during public meetings. The plan is expected to be finalized in April before heading to the San Jose City Council for approval.

There’s no set start date — as the city will need to secure environmental clearance and begin the civil engineering process. Those steps will take roughly two to three years if all goes according to plan, and construction will begin shortly after.

Tam said the project will create transformative change, rather than quick fixes, which the city will apply in the interim to increase safety before the project breaks ground.

“It’s not just about building more crosswalks or better signals at the intersections, but more about how we can improve transit reliability,” Tam told San José Spotlight.

Roads intersecting King also have a high number of collisions ending in fatalities or serious injuries, according to city data from 2018 to 2022. Story Road had 11 fatalities and 42 serious injuries, Tully Road had 14 deaths and 39 serious injuries and Capitol Expressway had 12 deaths and 45 serious injuries. Last year, San Jose scored $12.9 million to add safety improvements to four corridors.

Cindy Liu, owner of Yami Bowl, a restaurant near King Road’s northern end, said she is concerned how future construction will affect her business. She opened a few months ago and said other construction in the area already directs potential customers away.

“I don’t really want to see that, but if you can do just a one-time finish, it’s OK,” she told San José Spotlight. “It depends how long it’s going to be.”

Councilmember Domingo Candelas represents District 8, which includes parts of King Road.  He said the city will take into account the concerns of small business owners and try to keep the effects of construction minimal.

He said while residents wait for the improvements, they need to be mindful of their driving, including their speed.

“It takes all of us to create safer communities,” Candelas told San José Spotlight. “When we’re in a rush to get to a meeting, that may come at a cost and that cost may be very heavy.”

The city is hosting a meeting on Feb. 26 from 5:30-6:30 p.m. at 625 S. Sunset Ave, room 2 in San Jose for residents to voice their opinions on the King Road plan. A full list of upcoming meetings can be found on the project’s website.

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

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