Voters to decide if BART goes to South Bay

August 8, 2008 12:23:05 AM PDT
The decision to bring BART to the South Bay, is now in the hands of voters. The Valley Transportation Authority just voted to let Santa Clara County residents decide if they'd support a sales tax to pay for the extension.

The board voted nine to three, to let voters decide BART's fate. If they want to spend the money, BART could be in Santa Clara by the year 2013.

It is clear how the majority of those at the VTA Board meeting feel about the possibility of BART extending to Santa Clara County.

"BART will boost economic vitality by linking the county with others in the Bay Area," said Andrew Papsin, a Santa Clara County resident.

The proposal calls for an eighth of a percent sales tax on Santa Clara County residents, who already pay 8.25 percent. That should raise $50 million a year. That would be enough to run and maintain BART from the Fremont station through downtown San Jose, to Santa Clara.

"It's going to carry 100,000 trips by 2030, the equivalent of two full freeway lanes of traffic on the Highway 880/680 corridor," said Carl Guardino, from the Silicon Valley Leadership Group.

Guardino is spearheading the move, which he is sure voters will support come November.

"What happened to Measure A that we voted on in 2000?" said Sylvester Jacob, a San Jose resident.

It's a question that's raising concern among tax payers, who already supported a BART extension project, in the form of a sales tax, eight years ago. However, that money was ear marked for construction, not operations.

"It's time to finally put an end to BART to San Jose and it's time to put an end to this cash cow," said Kevin Kittila, a Santa Clara Co. resident.

The worry now is over money and how much more the county can put into a project that simply put, keeps needing more.

"Everybody can say yes, it's only 1/8 of a percent, but it all starts to add up," said Christine King, a San Jose resident.

Regardless, all the numbers make sense to Mike Deweeger. The BART extension would cut his daily commute to Hayward in half.

"Sure I'll pay it. I commute 52 miles a day back and forth by bus, BART and bike. BART would help a lot," said Deweeger, a San Jose resident.

Before the sales tax would only kick in, the state and federal governments have put in their share of the money first. Once that happens, the tax would begin 18 months later.


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