SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Connecting to every part of the Bay Area was one BART's original goals 50 years ago. While the original system didn't do that, the system has continued to expand and has plans to expand even more. That future expansion is centered in the South Bay.
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"I remember when you had to catch the one, the bus in Fremont to get to San Jose," said BART rider Kenneth Hendon, who recalled that time as he waited at the Berryessa BART station in North San Jose, one of the newest stations in the Bay Area and the first one to open in San Jose.
That station along with one in Milpitas opened up back in the summer of 2020 as part of the BART Silicon Valley Extension Phase One, adding ten miles. Phase one cost $2.3 billion with funds coming from the year 2000's Measure A, the California Traffic Congestion Relief Program and Federal Transit Administration's New Starts Program.
While BART operates and maintains the South Bay stations that are part of the extension, it's VTA who owns the infrastructure, funded it and oversaw the construction and design.
VTA's general manager and CEO Carolyn Gonot oversaw the extension in its earlier days. Now that Phase One is done, she says attention is on Phase Two, which would add four more stations: The Santa Clara Station, Diridion Station, Downtown San Jose Station and 28th Street/Little Portugal Station. As of June 2020, VTA says Phase Two is expected to cost $6.9 billion.
"This connection is highly anticipated by the whole entire region," Gonot said. "It will be that last piece that fills the gap to have a connection to ring around the Bay. BART will connect to Caltrain and that will allow people to come from the Peninsula or from the East Bay easily into Silicon Valley. Or to be able to take commutes in the opposite direction."
The project aims to serve 46,000 weekday trips in 2035 helping to eliminate more than 3500 tons of greenhouse gases every year and limit congestion.
For those who remember construction of previous BART stations, Gonot says that thanks to new technology, the construction on this new phase will be a lot less disruptive to people and businesses.
"The new technology that's going to bring BART to San Jose is actually with a single-bored tunneling, versus a two twin-bored tunnel that has been done for hundreds of years," Gonot said, "The single bore has been used all over the world. We are going to be building that in San Jose, which allows the whole structure to be integral throughout except at the station areas."
VTA has a contractor for the tunnel building and are working to get other contracts locked down.
"I truly believe that transportation affects our quality of life," Gonot said, "It's part of the fabric of the community and the idea that we can put this large investment into the system and connect it to our other services to have it be such a vital part of our lives is important to me."
Construction on Phase Two is set to start in 2024, the goal is for systems to be up and running with operational service by 2030.
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