The Biden Administration is promising continued funding for the BART extension into downtown San Jose, but looming delays and cost overruns haunt the project, considered critical to the South Bay’s economic future.
The Valley Transit Authority this week announced that President Joe Biden has earmarked an additional $200 million for the Silicon Valley BART Extension Phase II in his upcoming proposed budget
The project will extend BART alignment from the North San Jose Berryessa station through downtown San Jose to Santa Clara, adding four more stations and six more miles of track, the agency said.
This will be the third allocation of funds for the project after the Federal Transit Authority authorized $125 million in 2019 and another $100 million in 2021.
The infrastructure project would bring BART into the heart of San Jose and complete a ring of rapid rail service around the region.
The VTA had said in February that it would not update its anticipated cost and schedule for the project until it awards four major contracts, including one for tunneling and trackwork slated to be finalized this summer.
The current estimate for the overall project is $6.9 billion with a 2030 completion date,
Federal transit officials warned last year that the project's budget could rise to $9.1 billion — $4.4 billion over the transit authority's initial estimate and $2.2 billion over the VTA’s latest estimate.
In February, a Federal Transit Administration report said the planned extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit into San Jose could be delayed until 2034, adding four years to the project’s timeline..
The Federal Transit Administration expressed concerns about the project and the Valley Transit Authority’s ability to deliver it on budget and on schedule.
The federal agency called the VTA cost and schedule projections overly optimistic and questioned the methods used to derive staffing needs.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein praised the March 28 budget announcement.
“We know that traffic will only get worse throughout California, particularly in Los Angeles and the Bay Area," she said in a statement. "We also know that removing cars from our roads is one of the best ways to reduce carbon emissions. By funding these two projects, we're helping reduce traffic, lower emissions and broaden economic opportunity for residents."
Phase II is estimated to carry 54,600 passengers each weekday to destinations throughout the Bay Area by 2040, according to the VTA. announcement.
It remains to be seen whether that means the expected completion date of the extension is going to be pushed back another decade.