I’m reviewing the environment impact review documents for the VTA Capital Expressway Light Rail Project in San Jose, CA.
VTA plans to transform the Capital Expressway traffic sewer into what they call a multi-modal boulevard offering bus rapid transit (BRT), light rail transit, and safe connections to the regional transit system. The images below show Capital Expressway near Story Road as it currently is, and how it might look after the Capital Expressway light rail extension project is complete.
In addition to the walkway, bikeway and bus facility improvements already underway, this project will extend the Alum Rock light rail line 2.3 miles down Capital Expressway to the Eastridge Transit Center. The project will remove two traffic lanes on Capital Expressway and replace them with light rail right-of-way.
Currently, Capital Expressway between Alum Rock and Eastridge Mall is a dehumanizing auto-dominated moonscape. The technical background report dryly notes the corridor “possesses moderately low value for vividness, intactness, and unity as the landscape components do not exhibit a unique visual quality or character.” This is engineering jargon for “meh.” VTA has already started with small changes to improve the landscape for pedestrians.
For the beginning phases of this project, VTA has already installed new crosswalk signals. Pedestrian islands will be added. Turn radii will be reduced and pork-chop islands will be removed. These changes reduce the speed of vehicles executing right turns which improves pedestrian safety. VTA has also allocated funding for pedestrian overcrossings.