Parents From San Jose Elementary School Protest Proposed Overpass

May 24, 2018 Last Updated: May 24, 2018

Parents at Orchard Elementary School in San Jose are protesting a proposed overpass that would encroach on their school property and, they say, pose safety issues for their children.

The overpass, called the Charcot Avenue Extension, would be funded by Measure B and is intended to alleviate transportation problems. It would start at Charcot Avenue, cross the 880 freeway, and end near Orchard Elementary School playgrounds and classrooms, also taking 20,000 square feet from the school, including a playground and baseball field.

Colin Heyne of the San Jose Department of Transportation finds the project to be a natural extension of population growth and increased city traffic. “It’s an east-west connection across a freeway,” he says. “Freeways become barriers in neighborhoods and divide neighborhoods.”

Parents and district officials are not so enthusiastic. Most who have voiced their opinions say they already deal with traffic in the morning and that safety is their primary concern. Robin Roemer, who is concerned about pollution and has already collected 600 signatures against the project, says it is “just plain wrong no matter which school you do it to.”

District Superintendent Wendy Gudalewicz foresees a nightmare. “It’s disappointing to think that the city would need to put a road through a school, essentially jeopardizing 900 students. It’s just not okay.”

The parents and school district, however, are dependent on the city council’s approval to stop the overpass. Councilman Lan Diep says that “concerns alone aren’t enough to stop the project unless they cannot be addressed.”

Parents note that the overpass was proposed before the school was there. Now that the school is there, they hope the city will adjust. The deadline for community feedback is May 31. If approved, the overpass would be built, at the earliest, in late 2020.