BART’s long-awaited extension into downtown San Jose just got a huge boost with news that it’s entitled to $125 million from the federal government.
The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced Wednesday that it will direct the funds for Phase II of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA)-led project to extend the train line by 6.5 miles to the heart of Silicon Valley.
Four more BART stations are slated for the South Bay line in addition to the Berryessa and Milpitas stations slated to open later this year.
Local officials celebrated the news in a flurry of press releases and social media posts. San Jose’s chief elected official said the funding means the BART extension can now go “full speed ahead” on a project that’s been decades in the making.
“With the Berryessa station opening in the months ahead—and work to accelerate on the downtown San Jose extension—we look forward to connecting the Bay Area’s largest city to the rest of the region,” he wrote in a statement to reporters.
Carl Guardino—head of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group (SVLG), which aggressively lobbied for the funding—called the FTA’s grant a “first of its kind” and one that underscores the strength of the relationship between local and federal transit agencies.
I can never un-see this…but the point holds: BART is coming to Downtown San José!!! https://t.co/6rMDYEOHw0
— Sam Liccardo (@sliccardo) August 29, 2019
Guardino said the federal funds build on four local sales tax measures championed by SVLG to complete BART’s foray into the South Bay. Those four ballot initiatives—in 2000, 2008, 2016 and last year—generate more than $30 billion in local and regional funds, he said in a press release.
“This strong local-regional match then attracts, like a magnet, state and federal funds to build and operate such ambitious transportation improvements,” Guardino said.
BART’s Phase I will open for service by the year’s end and $100 million under budget, according to the SVLG. Phase II is set to start transporting riders by 2026 and, per Guardino, is one of the main reasons employers like Google and Adobe are interested in building around San Jose’s Diridon Station.
Congresswoman Anna Eshoo (D-Palo Alto), who helped drive efforts to land $647 million in federal dollars for Caltrain electrification and $900 million for the Silicon Valley BART extension, called the latest windfall from the FTA a boon for the local economy.
“I’ve been a strong advocate of BART’s extension to Silicon Valley for over a decade,” she said. “The $125 million investment to connect BART with Caltrain in the South Bay will relieve traffic congestion and support the continued growth of our region’s economy.”