A long-awaited ribbon was cut Friday to celebrate opening a pedestrian bridge in South San Jose that now offers easier, safer access to a shopping center in the wake of a tragic toddler death seven years ago.
The $10-million Blossom Hill Pedestrian Bridge, which also carries the nickname, "Xander's Crossing," is now open for public use, a fact officials touted at a news event.
The reason the pedestrian bridge over Monterey Road near Blossom Hill Road is so momentous is because a 2-year-old boy, Alexander Arriaga, was killed at that spot in 2005.
His mother, Nicole Wilson had left Alexander and her other son, then 4-year-old Elijah, with a babysitter while she worked a late shift at Toys R Us. The sitter then left the boys with a friend, Katrina Hatton, whom Wilson didn't know. That stand-in sitter walked the two boys across the tracks near Monterey Highway, and then left the boys on one side of the tracks while she went back to retrieve her daughter in a stroller.
Though the sitter told the boys to wait for her, Alexander was killed by an oncoming Amtrak train as he ran after Hatton.
Hatton was sentenced to community service.
The Friday ceremony was bittersweet for Wilson, who came from her new home in Fresno to the San Jose event.
"I wish he was here," Wilson said. "But this is going to save so many lives."
Alexander's death highlighted for many city leaders that the stretch of road was a dangerous but popular shortcut to a nearby shopping center. At the time, the office of former San Jose City Councilman Forrest Williams lobbied hard to get this span built. Construction was poised to begin in 2008 and be finished two years later, but the project was delayed, mostly over funding issues. Councilman Ash Kalra is now the councilman that serves this district, and was there at the ceremony to witness the crossing's opening.
NBC Bay Area's Damian Trujillo contributed to this report.