Feds Give VTA Green Light to Apply for Funds to Build $9.3B BART Extension under San Jose

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority tonight agreed to buy a high-tech tunnel boring machine to create a giant 5-mile tunnel under downtown San Jose to extend BART to Diridon Station and Santa Clara.

The project would be the first rail project in the United States using a tunnel created by a single bore that will allow both tracks and station platforms to be built within the tunnel, using the newest technology in underground construction.

VTA officials revealed tonight that the total cost of the project to complete BART’s loop through San Jose from the East Bay has soared to $9.3 billion, and that the authority next year will begin applying for federal aid to fund the project.

The VTA board tonight learned that the Federal Transit Administration notified the authority today that Phase II of the BART extension has been approved to re-enter the federal New Starts Funding program, which allows VTA to apply for twice the amount of funding anticipated under a previous Expedited Project Delivery pilot program.

The federal approval also will allow the VTA to  include past eligible expenses for potential grant reimbursement back to March 2016 in its funding request, in addition to all remaining work on the project, for the estimated total project cost of up to $9.3 billion.

VTA officials said they plan to begin work on the application for up to 50% of the total project cost as soon as summer 2023, after a final cost estimate and funding plan is worked out.

This funding, as much as $4.6 billion, would enable BART to follow an alignment that will extend the rail service from Berryessa/North San Jose through Downtown San Jose into Santa Clara.

With consideration of the FTA’s actions, VTA’s Board of Directors authorized the execution of contract amendments for up to $460 million at its Thursday night meeting, including the purchase of the tunnel boring machine and moving into early construction activities.

Kiewit Shea Traylor has the tunnel and trackwork contract for the project and plans to procure a tunnel boring machine approximately 54 feet in diameter, to bore a 5-mile tunnel under Downtown San Jose.

VTA is seeking an additional $750 million from the state’s transportation funding program for major transit projects as the last key funding piece.

Phase I was completed in 2020, extending 10 miles of BART service from the Warm Springs/South Fremont Station in Alameda County into Santa Clara County, with stops at Milpitas and Berryessa/North San José.

Phase II will extend service 6 more miles from the Berryessa Transit Center to stations at 28th Street/Little Portugal, Downtown San José and Diridon Station, ending at a Santa Clara station, which connects with CalTrain.



Three decades of journalism experience, as a writer and editor with Gannett, Knight-Ridder and Lee newspapers, as a business journal editor and publisher and as a weekly newspaper editor in Scotts Valley and Gilroy; with the Weeklys group since 2017. Recipient of several first-place writing and editing awards, California News Publishers Association.


  1. my goodness – what a fiasco

    but you know what they say…

    those dollars aren’t gonna launder themselves

  2. They really are going to proceed with (getting) that TBM early. It then would be accomplished fact ensuring the big single-bore design wins commitment, by getting the TBM, of the large size, up front, is that the intention? (Like pushing to get environmental clearance on the Pacheco Pass route to get commitment to it instead of sometime later to the better Altamont Pass route, so San Jose would be blessed with HSR service guaranteed — now single bore BART tunnel bragging rights would also be guaranteed)

    Don’t overlook the contractor bloat not only with the tunnel, but with the huge deep new stations with this design. OINK.

    A “selling point” of the big deep single bore was avoiding disruption of East Santa Clara Street. That also helps better to spur (ha, ha) additional real estate development along that street sooner instead of later. Hmmm.

    What if the machine gets stuck under the street, though, if it fails or is misused? The following is not surprising, is it?



    Do you recognize the Seattle tunnel partners for the articles above? That’s Dragados and infamous Tutor Perini. Yes, as with California high-speed rail, which is the state’s equivalent of this South Bay comedy show and contractor tax-fest. You know, change orders, cost increases, lawsuits ever ready, and work on HSR bridges, etc., aleady redone due to being defective … Imagine a South Bay version possible if not likely to come.

    And you know if the San Jose TBM gets stuck along East Santa Clara Street, so much for avoiding disruption along the street or tearing up the roadway. To get to the machine in Seattle, a pit had to be dug.down to reach it.

    Who would be surprised? Those who actually like or prefer this design

  3. According to that abandoned website “Seattle Business Mag”, the tunnel boring machine in Seattle, Bertha, ran into a big, thick sheet of iron which it wasn’t designed to chew through. I sure hope that doesn’t happen here in the South Bay.

    In any event, we have to move forward, or we move backward. I’m all more better rail transit, and BART should have rung the entire bay area decades ago, when it would have been cheaper to do. Instead, we wait, we whine (see comments above) and we pay more.

  4. Completely unrealistic rendering and future. Only white patrons, no bums, no buskers, no litter, no trash cans, no piss stains. Why will SJ’s link be different than Oakland or SF?

    No mention of financing recurring operations. VTA was required to collect at least 15% of operating expenses from fair box revenue. After years of deceit, the elected officials that pad their income as VTA BOD members were finally forced to move the goal posts. Now only 11% is targerted – and not clear that VTA can even achieve that low threshold given the empty busses and trams.

  5. What most amazes me about the BART Burrow is how inappropriate is the design for the objective of providing transit to lots of people. The 4 proposed stations will not well serve origins more than one-third mile from each. That leaves more than 100 square miles of San Jose without BART service or a quick and reliable way to get to those 4 stations.
    Instead of spending $9B on the BART Burrow, VTA could build an 800-station, 100 square-mile network of Personal Rapid Transit for only $7B. For less than 1% of that price, VTA could fund the entire Milpitas PRT demonstration project. Learn more at

  6. I am very happy to see this but have to wonder what will happen to the other Cities that need some kind of super system trans. unit things are very congested in Cupertino especially down Stevens Creek Blvd. There will be more people moving into Cupertino due to the homes that are being built on the projects here which are many. I hope that VTA can look into other areas as well as SJ. Why not put a mono rail down Stevens Creek Blvd. connecting San Jose to other cities would really help people could leave their cars at home and it sure would help everyone. I would love to see a housing community on the Lehigh Hanson Permanente property that is due for Reclamation there is even a rail road line right at near the Cement Plant that is no longer operating. VTA needs to look at this area there are many ways to make things better in our communities. There could be grants to support this and I believe that all the Cities should look into this. Thanks

  7. SCC RESIDENT, I linked to that site because its articles added color and arguably, insight to the Bertha stoppage and to mis-operation, too. Stepping back to the bigger picture, I mentioned the Bertha stoppage that most know about already, because it involved a tunnel boring machine of large (world record, I believe then) diameter as will be used in San Jose. From the start of the single-bore idea for San Jose and particularly when avoidance of disruption on the surface is claimed in the single-bore, deeper, TBM project’s favor, I have thought, often “aloud” in comments to articles, about what happens if the San Jose TBM, too, gets stuck and needs a pit dug (in that East Santa Clara Street supposedly not to be disrupted) for TBM rescue.

    As with other bad projects, complaints and critique as well as bitterness about wrongful decisions and stupidity and other problems are valid. The whining has been from the cheerleaders who are not critical (thinkers) at all except about criticism and opposition.

    Never mind the extension to Santa Clara (and the yard) that hints at going onward to Millbrae someday. Why is there not a station where the ventilation facility is at 16th Street, if not slightly west, to serve San Jose State for real, not the downtown station that promoted instead for the students to use?

  8. CATHY MARIE HELGERSON: San Jose has sought this for a while now.

    Here is the city’s effort (first link) and earlier set of concepts (second link), including the Bombardier concept, an example of a sensible solution.



  9. How timely. Carl Guardino and a buddy:

    “Here’s great news: We can build the BART tunnel without destroying downtown San Jose.”

    “This strategic approach to delivering a mega-infrastructure project helps ensure that the heart of innovation keeps pumping. It should not be underestimated that the extension will impact this region with a depth on par with the tech industry.”

    “This project provides for a once-in-a-century opportunity to sustainably organize Silicon Valley’s future growth around public transportation. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s (MTC) Plan Bay Area 2040 long range plan identifies the extension of BART service to San Jose and Santa Clara as the No. 1 priority for improving mobility.”

    “In Silicon Valley, we’re used to changing the world, and a world-class region needs a world-class public transportation system. The BART Extension into Silicon Valley can help create that.”


  10. This BART extension should be cancelled in light of extremely light BART ridership which will never recover to pre-COVID levels. A complete waste of $10 billion! VTA and the Feds are completely bonkers. Imagine what $10 billion could do if used to ameliorate regional homelessness.

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