BART board president says new South Bay BART stations will open Dec. 31

Two new South Bay BART stations are built and ready, but they will not open until Dec. 31.

BART to Silicon Valley is being built in two phases.

Phase I is refers to the 10-mile Berryessa extension. It will connect BART from the Warm Spring station in Fremont to two new stations. One in Milpitas near the Great Mall. The other is the Berryessa station in the north San Jose neighborhood of Berryessa.

The stations remain closed until testing is completed on the tracks. The VTA says they are still working through some technical issues.

"Very sophisticated train control (system), everything is interlocking. Everything has to talk to itself. So the commissioning part of a metro like this really the most technically difficult," explains Jorge Martinez, VTA project manager for phase I.

Martinez says those technical issues have set the project back months.

Santa Clara County did not want to join the BART district when it formed in 1965, leaving the county to have to build their own tracks and BART stations. BART will come in and operate them.

But there have been other problems between BART and the VTA off the track as well.

"In the next three to four months, we are going to be transferring responsibility to BART," says BART Board President Bevan Dufty.

Dufty says most of the sticking points have been hammered out between the two transportation agencies. But before BART takes over, a few final issues remain.

"For example, our train control system serves the entire BART system, but a percentage of those rides are taking place in Santa Clara, so we are working through the reimbursements," says Dufty.

There may only be a few remaining issues, however, they are related to finance, and operations and maintenance. Those items have stalled talks between BART and the VTA in the past -- and there could be further delays if there is no agreement.

That's not what passengers, who want out of their cars, want to hear.

"Let's make it happen. Especially, (since) Facebook and others are coming, that's going to mean more traffic on the roads," says Marcela Cervera, who lives in Fremont.

Phase II of the South Bay BART extension is 6 miles long and includes four more stations, with stops in east and downtown San Jose, the Diridon intermodal transit hub and Santa Clara.

According to the VTA, Phase II is still in the design and engineering phase. It is expected to be complete in 2026.

More information on the project can be found here.
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