Dangerous San Jose intersection to see safety upgrade after fatal hit-and-runs

Amanda del Castillo Image
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Dangerous SJ intersection to see safety upgrade after hit-and runs
San Jose city leaders unanimously voted to take action and to increase safety at the dangerous intersection of Monterey Road and Curtner Avenue.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- San Jose city leaders unanimously voted on Tuesday night to take action and to increase safety at the dangerous intersection of Monterey Road and Curtner Avenue.

It's the site of multiple fatal hit-and-runs this year alone.

ABC7 News stood at the intersection on Tuesday afternoon and witnessed close call after close call. Some pedestrians were seen walking against traffic lights and a number of drivers were seen speeding through the area.

"I walk about 4 or 5 miles back and forth," San Jose resident Michael Young told ABC7 News. "And I consider this the most dangerous part of my journey."

Young said he often has to raise his cane before stepping off the curb.

"Hey! You guys see me here," he motioned. "I'm walking here!"

He described, "I cross over there. Those people aren't necessarily even aware that they're supposed to be stopping, and/or they often ignore the fact that a pedestrian would have the right of way anyway."

The intersection is the site of seven car and pedestrian collisions this year. Six were hit-and-run fatalities. It's the reason city leaders voted to have barriers installed as part of a safety pilot program, with installation expected early next year.

"We owe it to our residents. We owe it to the families of the victims to try it out and see what we learn," Councilmember Maya Esparza said during Tuesday's council meeting.

She continued, "If it helps, then maybe we can look at the other Vision Zero corridors in our city. If it doesn't, then we need to go on to the next thing. But we owe it to our residents to try."

Last month, the San Jose Police Department released surveillance video of a white Mercedes sedan, suspected in a deadly hit-and-run that killed a 37-year-old mother of five, back in April.

Vanessa Ann Arce was struck while crossing in her wheelchair.

Her family has posted photos and information around the area, with details about the deadly crash. The driver is still out there.

San Jose resident Larry Guethe lives nearby. He said he witnessed the fatal collision that killed Arce, among several other crashes.

"You could see people speeding all the time down Monterey Highway for some reason," Guethe said. "I don't know if they think it's a drag strip or what, but they just don't drive right for some reason."

He added, "I've been here 13 years, and I probably seen more than six people hit."

He says beyond dangerous drivers, those in neighboring apartment complexes and residents at a nearby homeless encampment often jaywalk for quicker access to The Plant - a shopping center just across the street.

"It's a dangerous area right here for some reason. I don't know," Guethe told ABC7 News. "People always in a hurry, or they're not looking, or they don't care or what. But there's always people going too fast, in a hurry to get somewhere."

Because two of the recent victims were homeless residents, the proposal also called for increased homeless outreach to nearby encampments.

Regarding additional safety measures at the intersection, whether the city will install cameras is still under consideration.

Elsewhere, according to SJPD, the department has investigated 44 traffic fatalities this year, totally 45 victims. Of the 45 victims, 18 were pedestrians.