High-speed rail looks like it’s on the fast track to nowhere as more people speak out against the project, while the BART system received some excellent news earlier this week. The Federal Transit Administration sent word earlier this week to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority that $900 million in federal funding has been recommended for approval. Construction crews could break ground as soon as this spring on a 10-mile extension that would take trains into the Berryessa neighborhood of San Jose.
As reported by the San Francisco Chronicle:
“The $2.3 billion San Jose extension will be built by the authority then incorporated into the BART system. It will start at the end of the Warm Springs extension, now under construction and expected to be completed in 2014, and reach 10 miles into Santa Clara County, ending, for now, on the east side of San Jose. Two stations are planned - one in Milpitas near the Great Mall with the other at the end of the line in the Berryessa neighborhood, across the street from the San Jose Flea Market.
“The authority last month awarded a contract to build the extension, which could be completed by the end of 2016. A second phase, taking the extension another 6 miles into downtown San Jose and Santa Clara, would follow when funding is available.
“Aside from the federal funding, the bulk of the extension and the cost of operating it will be paid for by sales taxes approved by Santa Clara County voters in 2000 and 2008. About $649 million will come from the state.”
Congress will have 60 days to review the recommendation, which seems to be a sure bet. Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, says Congress shouldn’t think twice about approving the project because “there are very solid reasons this project has been supported by the leaders of the Silicon Valley economy for the past 12 years.”
That hasn’t always been the case, of course. Guardino and San Jose City Councilmember Pete Constant had their own battle over BART, which ended in public apologies.
Also announced Thursday, BART will receive some sleek new trains to replace what has become the “oldest rail fleet in the nation.”
The Chronicle’s Michael Cabanatuan reports, “The first cars are expected to arrive in September 2016 with the last of the batch arriving by the end of 2018. All 775 cars would be delivered by 2023.”