San Jose & Milpitas: Opportunity for bike facilities across I-680

Happy Spare the Air Day, Bay Area. With BART passenger service between San Jose and Alameda County on track to begin in 2018, VTA begins planning to doom yet another South Bay transit service to low ridership with a planned expansion for I-680.

VTA and Caltrans are preparing the I-680 Corridor Study to develop a strategic plan for I-680 in Santa Clara County. According to VTA, the intent of the study is to identify and address traffic congestion, pedestrian and bicycle access and accommodation, transit connectivity and any other transportation-related issues along the corridor.

I-680 Corridor Study San Jose and Milpitas

The study area extends approximately 10 miles from the Alameda/Santa Clara County border in the City of Milpitas to the 1-280/I-680 interchange in the City of San Jose. The I-680 Corridor is an important north-south link connecting Alameda and Santa Clara counties. It serves as a major commute route between the counties and as an interstate route connecting the South Bay to the rest of the Bay Area.

Bicycle issues

Bicycling across I-680 is challenging, with crossings consisting mostly of sharing the road through high speed multi-lane mixing zones with motor traffic merging to and from the freeway. This corridor plan provides opportunity to improve bicycle access across I-680 for those who live in the Berryessa, Evergreen and Alum Rock areas of San Jose.

Bike crossings can significantly improve the environment for people who live east of I-680 and encourage them to bike to the new BART stations, Levi Stadium, businesses along North First Street, Japantown, and downtown San Jose. The single bike trail that crosses I-280 — the Penitencia Creek Trail — is currently a second-class afterthought.

The Santa Clara County Bicycle Plan identifies I-680 has a potential bike corridor that needs development, both as a north-south corridor, and as a barrier that requires connections. Currently, only two “adequate” connections are identified across this 10 mile long barrier. The current plan suggests additional bike-friendly crossings across I-680 at Berryessa Road and Hostetter Road.

When Highway 87 was built, cyclists demanded (and got) a bike path built adjacent to the freeway as part of the environmental mitigation. The city of San Jose subsequently closed part of this path because of “safety,” so we need to ensure whatever path is specified remain open and usable even in heavy rains.

VTA will hold a public workshops tomorrow night, Thursday, September 10, 2015 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Berryessa Community Center, 3050 Berryessa Road, San Jose, CA 95132. This location is served by VTA Light Rail and Bus Lines 45, 62, and 71. This center also is located off of the Penitencia Creek Trail.

You can also provide input via this online survey where you can add pushpins with your comments and upvote the existing comments that you like.

With a tip of the hat to my colleague Matt Murphy at the office who bikes to work from Berryessa, who writes, “We should be able to have as pleasant a ride to Alum Rock Park as Willow Glen gets to Vasona Park. These two agencies have real money to fund projects and we need to get some!”

The Bay Area Air Quality Management District announced the seventh Spare the Air Day for tomorrow as concentrations of ground-level ozone pollution are forecast to be unhealthy tomorrow.

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