By Aaron Mendelson
When BART trains roll into San Jose’s Berryessa Station in a few years, they’ll be in Santa Clara County for the first time.
Wednesday, BART’s extension to Silicon Valley received its final $39 million in state funding from the California Transportation Commission. That brings state funding to $768 million for a project expected to cost $2.3 billion.
The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is overseeing construction of and will own the 10-mile extension — and BART will operate it. Scheduled to open to the public early in 2018, the extension will bring BART to Milpitas and San Jose, the Bay Area’s largest city.
An event celebrating the state allocation to the VTA was held at the site of the future Berryessa Station, the end of the extension, located between San Jose’s Alum Rock district and downtown.
San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed spoke at the event, telling the audience that “somebody is destined for sainthood because a miracle has happened in California. We’re getting the last check of more than a $700 million promise that was made decades ago.”
He thanked California’s three most recent governors — Gray Davis, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown — for warding off threats to the funding.
“This means for our commuters not only traffic relief and economic growth and jobs, but also greenhouse gas emissions. So this is a triple win,” Guardino said.
Former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales was also at the celebration.
Gonzales said Berryessa Station in San Jose is important for the area’s Latinos “because it gets [BART] closer to east side of San Jose, the major population center for the Hispanic community of San Jose and Silicon Valley. So one, it’s going to be easy to gain access to the BART process and the BART system here. And second: jobs.”
He added that BART trains will give families in the area easier access to higher education.
Before service to Berryessa and Milpitas begins, BART will open the South Fremont/Warm Springs station, its 45th. The VTA’s BART Silicon Valley project takes over where that extension leaves off and will connect the Santa Clara County stations to the current Richmond-Fremont and Fremont-Daly City lines.
A planned but currently unfunded second phase of BART construction in Silicon Valley could eventually bring service to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara.