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Proposed Land Swap Would Allow For San Jose Road Widening

SAN JOSE (KPIX) – Officials in San Jose think a possible solution to the recent uptick in fatal pedestrian deaths plaguing the city could be to widen the roads at a couple of traffic trouble spots.

The plan involves a land swap that will allow officials to widen Branham Road and Snell Avenue, two of the most problematic streets in the city.

San Jose Councilmember Johnny Khamis pushed for a deal to give Santa Clara County a 12-acre patch along the south side of Hellyer Avenue at Silicon Valley Boulevard in exchange for nearly nine acres worth of 60-foot wide strips along Branham and Snell.

"It's parkland for parkland," explained Khamis. "They're giving us a strip of parkland. We're giving them a lot more parkland."

San Jose plans to use the strips to widen Branham and Snell. Right now, the roadway narrows down and forces cars to merge within a short distance.

From 2008 to 2017, there have been 142 crashes, including three fatalities.

Neighbor Michele Barajas says it's a mad rush in the morning.

"It's a race from the light, like when you're at the light at Branham right there? And it's a race to see who gets there first," said Barajas. "And whoever wins, sometimes there is a lot of accidents there, you know?"

The additional land will allow for the road safety improvements, according to Khamis.

"We're going be able to put in some sidewalks, some bike lanes," said Khamis. "We're going be able to get some protected walking and bicycling pathways as a part of this deal. And we're just looking to make our streets a little safer."

Santa Clara County Supervisor Mike Wasserman told KPIX the county couldn't just simply sell the strips of land since they're a part of Martial Cottle Park.

The unusual land swap was the only way to make the deal work.

When the County gives up an easement in this case -- for use of the property, parkland -- it has to get parkland in exchange," said Wasserman. "And that's the deal we've made with San Jose. The net result is, the people, like I said really don't lose any parkland. And they gain parking spaces and increased safety."

The county is set to vote on the deal December 4th.

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