Before the bridge was built and a new fence installed, pedestrians could often be seen dangerously scrambling across two busy streets and two train tracks. But when a 2-year-old was killed there by an Amtrak train, it became painfully clear that a bridge was needed.
Elijah Arraiga snipped a ceremonial purple ribbon Friday opening the pedestrian bridge to traffic. He was with his little brother Alexander on the terrible day when he got killed by an Amtrak train as he tried to cross the tracks with a babysitter. His mother Nichole Wilson was devastated at the time. Now, she holds back tears as she crosses the bridge named after her son. "It's a good feeling, just a lot to take in right now," she said.
The bridge is designed for pedestrians and bicyclists. Among the first to cross was Lluz Vera who says she used to pedal her son across the tracks three days out of the week. Asked if the area was dangerous she told ABC7 News, "Very dangerous. My oldest son, like 7-years-old, he was always, 'No, lets go around. Don't go for the tracks,' And I say, 'OK, it's too far.'" She is relieved for the new crossing.
Along with the new bridge, a shiny new fence has been installed to block people from walking over the train tracks here. "So, now that we have the pedestrian bridge, we have to put fencing there otherwise people will just keep on doing the same thing. We're trying to funnel people into using the bridge," San Jose councilmember Ash Kalra said.
Following the accident that killed little Alexander Arraiga, his family decided to leave San Jose and now call Fresno their home. Though the death of their young child proved to be very difficult to handle, Alexander's family returned for Friday's emotional dedication. "He's saving lives. This is just awesome," Nichole said. As everyone made it all the way across the bridge, the emotion of the moment overcame the whole family.
The bridge is called "Xander's Crossing." Alexander's mother says little Xander's spirit will forever be helping give safe passage to all those who choose to cross there. People began crossing it soon after it opened Friday. It took less than a year to design and construct of the bridge, but it actually took more than nine years to gather the funding for the $10.5 million project.