The Alameda: A Plan for the "Beautiful Way"
San Jose, CA
The Alameda is a 1.5 mile historic section of the El Camino Real which plays an important role as a gateway to San Jose and downtown. At its northern end, The Alameda/I-880 interchange is one of the primary entry points into San Jose and carries significant commuter and general traffic. At the southern end is a major multi-modal transit center at Diridon Station, which is poised to grow with a future BART and High Speed Rail station. The Alameda is also a major bus service route for the Santa Clara County Valley Transportation Agency (VTA) bus network. The adjacent community includes historic residential neighborhoods, local-serving retail, and new higher-density infill development near the Diridon Station.
The Alameda was once the commercial/retail center for this area of the city; however, the commercial area is now struggling. Many historic buildings are vacant. Recent development is confined to a few isolated pockets along the boulevard. The street suffers from common problems of evolving urban thoroughfares: lack of pedestrian amenities, intrusive traffic, inadequate and potentially unsafe crosswalks, inadequate bicycle facilities, and poor connectivity with other important destinations, such as Diridon Station. There is also no special treatment of The Alameda or important cross streets to define this as a unique neighborhood.
To address these challenges, an alliance comprising the San Jose Redevelopment Agency, City of San Jose Department of Transportation, and the neighborhoods surrounding The Alameda engaged BMS Design Group (now Page) to develop a strategic vision for the future of the corridor.
The community-based, integrated urban design/transportation plan, “A Plan for ‘The Beautiful Way,’” presents a vision and strategy to reinvigorate this commercial center, encourage multi-modal transportation, serve residents of surrounding neighborhoods, transit users, and business owners; contribute to a more livable and cohesive community; and foster economic and residential development.
The planning team identified concerns and issues during an extensive community outreach program and site analysis. The final plan was a result of active participation of many stakeholders. The concept design reinforces and emphasizes the historic legacy of the area, its mansions and historic businesses and establishes The Alameda as a grand boulevard and retail destination through unifying place-making elements. The two districts of The Alameda, The Historic Way and Town Center, have distinct qualities that are preserved and highlighted in the plan. Recommended design elements provide consistency along the corridor to make The Alameda a cohesive place.
Circulation, transportation and vehicular access are important elements in the plan. A primary feature is the reduction of the wide, four-to-six- lane roadway to three lanes in critical segments in order to provide enhanced pedestrian and bicycle amenities and still allow for vehicle movements, planned Bus Rapid Transit, and ample parking opportunities.
The urban design portion of the plan identifies the means to transform The Alameda into an attractive and active “main street,” the focus for adjacent neighborhoods with amenities and services for residents, commuters and visitors.