Silicon Valley BART extension

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

The Silicon Valley BART extension is a set of three phases of expansion of the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) from its current terminus in Fremont to Santa Clara County. The extensions will be to the Warm Springs District, Berryessa District, and lastly to Downtown San Jose and/or Santa Clara.[1][2][3]

Construction started on the extension to Warm Springs in 2010, and is scheduled to open in 2015. Construction started in April 2012 on the Berryessa Extension, and will open to the public in late 2016.[4]

History[edit]

Construction on the Warm Springs extension underway in Fremont, September 12, 2012

Santa Clara County was originally going to be part of the BART system but local leaders voted it down. There would have been minor service at Palo Alto right over the border from San Mateo County. However, San Mateo County also opted out, leaving Fremont the closest end of line.[citation needed]

In the late 1990s planners and community leaders began to plan out a BART extension to San Jose to ameliorate traffic and connect the city to the rest of the Bay Area and close the gap in rail service around the bay.

In 2000 Santa Clara County voters approved a 30-year-long half cent sales tax increase to fund BART.[1] The tax did not come into effect until 2006. It became clear that federal funding would not be approved until the county's transit body, the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA), could prove that it could operate the BART extension with its own funds in a way that would not be detrimental to its existing transit and transportation infrastructure, following the project's multiple failures to gain congressional approval for this reason.[1] In 2008, to mitigate that fact, the voters were again asked to raise sales tax this time by 1/8th of one percent to come into effect when and if federal funding of the project was approved.[1][3]

In 2009 it was made evident that due to worsening economic factors that over its 30-year lifespan the 2000 sales tax would only bring in 7 billion dollars and not the anticipated 11 billion and plans for the full extension and amount of stations needed to be scaled back.[1][3] The project was cut into phases with service to northern San Jose at Berryessa originally planned for 2018 and to downtown San Jose by 2025 which may or may not include Santa Clara.[1][3]

In 2009, the first phase of expansion in Warm Springs began construction with the awarding of a $140 million contract to tunnel underneath Fremont's Central Park. The additional $299 million to complete the expansion was allocated and contracted out in 2011. Construction began officially in 2010 and the 5.4-mile (8.7 km) extension to Warm Springs is expected to be completed in 2015.[5]

In November 2011, VTA awarded a $772 million contract to begin building the first phase of extension to the joint venture Skanska-Shimmick-Herzog. The winning bid was awarded $77 million under initial cost estimates, and the contract is expected to be completed in late 2016, 18 months earlier than previously expected.[6]

On January 10, 2012, the federal government recommended approval of a $900 Million grant to fund the Berryessa Extension.[7] The grant was officially awarded by the Federal Transit Administration in March 2012, and the project officially began construction in April 2012, with the first phase of the extension open to the public by 2017.[8]

Warm Springs Extension[edit]

Map of the Warm Springs Extension

Construction on the Warm Springs extension began in 2010. It will extend the existing track from Fremont by 5.4 miles, and is the first part of BART's Silicon Valley extension. The Warm Springs line will feature a subway underneath Fremont's Central Park, and is expected to open for passenger service by 2015.

Berryessa Extension[edit]

Map of Phase I and II extensions from Warm Springs to San Jose and Santa Clara.

This extension will bring BART south from Warm Springs to Berryessa station, with an intermediate Milpitas station (originally to be called "Montague Station") located adjacent to, and connected by bridge to, the VTA's Montague light rail station near the Great Mall of the Bay Area and the Great Mall/Main Transit Center. The plan for a third station in downtown Milpitas, to be called Calaveras station, will be deferred for a future infill station to be funded by the city.[1]

In 2009, VTA proposed that the extension needed to be extended as far as they could afford, and thus only as far as Berryessa until further funding was made available.[1] In 2009, the MTC also changed its rules allowing for toll monies from bridges and HOT lanes to be used for transit projects, opening up more funding for BART expansion and other projects such as VTA light rail extensions and bus or ferry operations as well.[1] This leg of the extension has been fully funded and in December 2011, VTA awarded a $772 million main contract for its construction.

After funding fell into place in March 2012, the project officially began construction in April 2012, with the first phase of the extension projected to be open to the public by 2017.[8]

A local industrial park sued on environmental grounds because the extension may reduce its vehicular access and lower their earnings.[9] This lawsuit brings many parallels to the owner of Artichoke Joe's unsuccessful plan to stonewall the SFO BART extension in the late 1990s and early 2000s.[9][10][11]

San Jose/Santa Clara extension[edit]

A final leg will be built to the urban core of San Jose, first to Alum Rock station on the city's "east side", connected by a tunnel under Santa Clara Street to a Downtown San Jose Station, which will be an interchange station to VTA lines.[1] Original plans called for separate Civic Plaza/SJSU and Plaza de César Chávez stations but, but these were consolidated into a single station to save money.[1] The line will continue to the San Jose Diridon Train Station (transfer point to Amtrak, Caltrain, and ACE services), with the BART subway station to be called "Diridon/Arena" (SAP Arena). It will either terminate there, allowing for a future extension to Santa Clara Station, or go all the way to that station in the same phase of construction.[1]

Originally the entire extension was going to be built as one megaproject, but lower than expected federal funding and sales tax revenue led to the scaling back and phasing in of the plan.[1] After funding fell into place for the first phase in March 2012, VTA has been looking for $2 billion to close the remaining funding gap for the projected $4 billion cost of the second phase of the extension to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara.[12]

References[edit]

External links[edit]