Road closures during SJ grafitti cleanup

May 13, 2013 5:48:17 PM PDT
The city of San Jose is stopping traffic to eradicate an eyesore. Starting Monday night, the city will close portions of Highway 101 near old Oakland Road and surrounding streets to get rid of graffiti. The cleanup of that section of Old Oakland Road, also known as 13th Street, has been a huge group effort.

By Tuesday morning's commute, all the graffiti should be gone and it's about time according to city leaders and San Jose residents who have been working hard to get rid of graffiti. It's not the image San Jose wants on one of the busiest freeways in the Bay Area. Yet, the graffiti has been there for as long as anyone can remember.

"It does encourage or at least give the impression that the criminal element is more free to be at ease in San Jose, and we definitely don't want to send that message," San Jose councilmember Ash Kalra told ABC7 News.

However, the problem is that San Jose has no jurisdiction. The overpass is a trestle owned by the Union Pacific Railroad and Caltrans. Kalra says Union Pacific, or "UP," has not been cooperative. "It makes all of us look bad. It makes the city look bad because residents think we're not doing anything about it but in reality, we have a lot of obstacles, one of which is UP," he said.

However, the city has gotten the state and the railroad on board to remove the graffiti, a process that will involve some lane closures on Highway 101 overnight. Caltrans has already installed new fencing to discourage taggers from painting new graffiti once it's removed.

"So, they've put up impediments towards future taggers from getting onto the bridge but again, our hope is that we can see that come through and start really scheduling with Caltrans on a more regular basis, ways in which we can eliminate the graffiti in the future," said Suzanne Wolf with Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services.

San Jose has been working hard to eliminate graffiti, enlisting the help of volunteers to do clean-up. San Jose even has a smartphone app to encourage citizens to report whenever they see some graffiti and to take a picture at the same time.

The next trestle due for graffiti clean-up spans Highway 280 at Bird Avenue. It is jointly owned by Amtrak and Caltrans. The city plans to keep pressuring Union Pacific to clean up some sound walls in South San Jose.

Contrary to what Kalra said, Union Pacific says it has a good working relationship with the city of San Jose.

The work will be done between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Tuesday, but the CHP says lane closures may start as early as 8:30 p.m. or 9 p.m. Monday.


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