In about six years, the new Berryessa will be up and running, but getting BART to San Jose has not been an easy process with federal funding cutbacks and requirements for more local funding, but on Monday, everything came together. Almost everyone gathered at city hall Monday played a role over the past dozen years leading to the historic signing ceremony. The Federal Transit Administration made a $900 million grant to bring BART to San Jose.
"Those that can step to the plate and put skin in the game in terms of local dollars to help leverage the federal investment and really become true partners, goes a long, long way," said Therese McMillian with the Federal Transit Administration. The skin Santa Clara County residents contributed involved going to the polls twice. They went once in 2000 to raise almost $1.2 billion with a sales tax and again in 2008 to fund maintenance when the economy was in meltdown.
Construction can now begin on the 10-mile extension that will run from a future Warm Springs BART station in South Fremont to North San Jose. San Jose resident Genevieve Meza looks forward to riding BART. "BART, on the weekends, is a great tool for me to have given that I am a student," she said. An estimated 23,000 passengers will use the extension when it opens in 2018 at a cost of $2.3 billion. Milpitas will get a station. The Berryessa station will be built alongside an existing Union Pacific rail line.
Mayor Chuck Reed says BART will boost San Jose's economic vitality. "Companies looking at the long term can see that they're going to have a way to get their employees to work that's different than what they have now, and it's part of the optimism of the Valley that we're investing in this kind of infrastructure. It helps people to make decisions to keep the jobs here," he said.
Boosters say BART to San Jose will ease traffic congestion and pollution. "Silicon Valley is the job generator and to the extent that we can make our Bay Area more cohesive and whole through transportation, it's going to lift up the entire Bay Area," Rep. Zoe Lofgren said.
Groundbreaking is set for April 12, but the dream does not end there. There is still hope for an additional 6-mile extension into downtown San Jose.