VTA board chair pushing for federal funding to complete BART Silicon Valley project

Zach Fuentes Image
Wednesday, June 26, 2024
VTA BART Silicon Valley Phase II project awaits federal funds
In the South Bay, there is growing concern over phase two of VTA's BART Silicon Valley project as it awaits critical federal funding.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In the South Bay, there is growing concern over phase two of VTA's BART Silicon Valley project as it awaits critical federal funding.

It is the largest single public infrastructure project in Santa Clara County and some say delays will not just impact future passengers, but also thousands of jobs.

Ground was broken more than two weeks ago officially kicking off construction on the long-awaited BART extension in Santa Clara County.

The project brings four more stations to the South Bay including Downtown San Jose.

"We went forward with the groundbreaking for the tunnel boring machine, because we're anticipating a partnership with the federal government," said Santa Clara County Supervisor Cindy Chavez who is also chair of the VTA Board of Directors.

That partnership would be $6.2 billion in federal funding or 49.4% of the project's cost.

MORE: Here's VTA's plan to keep expanding BART in the South Bay

VTA will own the facilities and BART will operate and maintain it.

"The county of Santa Clara, VTA and the residents here have both raised local money and gotten matches to bring us to over $6 billion," Chavez said, "We're bringing to the project locally and we need the federal government to do their part to make sure that these shovel ready jobs keep moving while we get this project built."

Local labor unions say thousands of workers are ready to take on those jobs.

"Let me just tell you that without this funding, this project may be delayed and delay means possible cancellation, because every year cost escalation with construction would just add more cost to this project," said David Bini, executive director with the Santa Clara and San Benito Counties Building and Construction Trades Council. "So if this project doesn't get the funding now, that means those 75,000 jobs that we talked about, are possibly off the table entirely."

The VTA project is competing with other transportation projects in the country for the federal funding.

The project had already seen delays and the cost go up.

MORE: Will this San Jose VTA site become location for quick build housing community?

All of this as BART expects to run out of $1.9 billion in federal and state assistance by April of 2026.

Still, Chavez said the project is worth the federal government's investment because of the local investment.

"What we're saying to the federal government is if a local jurisdiction can and is willing to raise this much money, we're really asking that they do their part," she said.

Like the unions representing workers, Chavez said she's also concerned about what happens if the federal government does not grant the funding.

"We can't go back and tax our folks, again, they've given an awful lot," Chavez said, "So we're really limited in where we can get funds."

Chavez said the federal government will let VTA know sometime in the next 20 days as to what their recommended contribution will be to the project.

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