July 20, 2024
Officials say the infusion of dollars helps solidify federal funding for the BART extension

San Jose’s BART extension got a boost of $375 million in state funding from the Bay Area’s regional transportation agency this week, bringing a much needed infusion of cash to the future megaproject.

The funding approved by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission on Wednesday bolsters the finances behind the BART extension — a six-mile route that will add four stations — which recently saw a major cost increase and timeline delay due to economic pressures from inflation. The project is estimated to carry a price tag of $12.2 billion and open in 2036, over double the original cost projection and a decade longer than initially expected.

Wednesday’s injection of hundreds of millions of dollars comes from the state’s transportation infrastructure coffers, which has funneled billions toward a long list of transportation projects across California. In addition, $350 million was directed toward BART capacity improvements.

Officials on Thursday said the money approved this week helps solidify critical funding promised from the federal government.

“We’ve been working really hard to see if we can complete the local funding component of the BART funding package,” said San Jose’s Mayor Matt Mahan, a voting member of MTC, in an interview on Thursday. “This is really significant. We are eligible to receive the full federal government’s funding.”

Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez, also a voting member on the commission, wrote in a statement that the local dollars help pave the way for the federal government to pay for almost half of the project.

“This is very good progress for Bay Area workers and commuters because it moves the BART project forward,” she wrote.

According to VTA’s latest figures, local dollars from sales tax measures account for $4.31 billion of the project’s funding, $1.87 billion from state and regional sources and $6.04 billion from the federal government.

“We are grateful for MTC’s confidence in VTA’s ability to deliver major transportation infrastructure projects,” said Valley Transportation Authority General Manager and CEO Carolyn Gonot. “It provides great momentum as we pursue the final segment of federal funding needed to bring BART through Silicon Valley.”

The BART extension is considered one of the most expensive transportation infrastructure projects in the country and intends to wrap a ring of U-shaped rail service starting in north San Jose, through downtown, and up into Santa Clara.

The project will include a 4.7-mile underground path beneath San Jose, the largest single-bore transit tunnel project in America, according to officials. Much of the delays announced this month can be attributed to the prep work required for the tunneling, which officials said has extended the timeline by 26 months. Another $1.1 billion in extra costs is being blamed on skyrocketing construction material prices that have risen sharply since 2020.

Over two weeks after the price and timeline delays were announced this month by transit officials, the chair of the VTA’s Board of Directors announced the BART extension would be establishing an oversight committee to investigate the issues. The six-person group, which includes both Mahan and Chavez, will be working alongside the transit agency’s auditor general on problems related to the project.