SAN JOSE (KPIX) — A San Jose street project called the “Charcot Extension” has been on the books for decades and is now beginning to move forward. But neighbors say the area has changed greatly over the years and they’re putting up a fight.
The project involves Charcot Avenue, which ends on the west side of Interstate 880. The city wants to extend Charcot with a vehicle and pedestrian overpass over the freeway to connect with Oakland Road. The idea is to provide another way for people to cross 880, taking some of the congestion from nearby Brokaw Rd. On the eastern end, the Charcot Extension would be a four-lane street squeezed between a residential neighborhood on what is now Silk Wood Lane and Orchard Elementary School, neither of which existed in 1994 when the project was first planned.
“It doesn’t make sense and especially after it’s been so many years,” said Orchard PTA president Monica Galindo-Dass. “I mean, if they had this plan then why did they allow the school to be built?”
Saturday morning, members of the “Orchard School Community” went door-to-door, handing out flyers and passing the word to neighbors, many of whom had no idea what the plan was.
Erin McCarthy, president of the Orchard Teacher Association, said they were also seeking donations to continue a lawsuit the group has filed against the city.
“Today we’re hoping to get more community involvement,” McCarthy said. “We’re hoping to get the people knowledgeable about it to help us fight the city — both financially and also emotionally. We need the support to keep fighting the city to make this road stop.”
The new street would come within about 30 feet of some of the classrooms and carve off a large portion of the school’s playground. That didn’t sit well with 6th-grader Kascia Dass.
“We really liked playing on there,” Dass said. “And knowing that half of it would be cut off, especially the best part where the bars are — the monkey bars — we didn’t really like the idea of that.”
Hock Lim, who lives a stone’s throw from the proposed roadway, said if the extension is successful at relieving traffic on Brokaw, it will only be because those cars will be streaming past his home.
“They’re going to rip up the schoolyard, everything, so the first few years is going to be unbearable,” he said. “And then, after the road is built, this will be a traffic nightmare because right in front of my house will be a line to either turn right or turn left.”
The Orchard School Community says the Charcot Extension was conceived 28 years ago and no longer reflects the reality of the area. In June of last year, the San Jose city council voted to approve an Environmental Impact Report for the project, which the neighbors are challenging in court. They’ve heard little from the city but believe their lawsuit is the only reason construction has not yet begun.
“If they’re going to settle then we need to know that and that way we can stop the lawsuit,” Galindo-Dass said. “But because there’s no response publicly, there’s nothing else that we can do. I mean, we have to just move forward.”