BART is back on track

BART has officially begun visible work on its expansion through downtown San Jose to Santa Clara.

BART crews in January began mapping underground utilities and taking soil samples along Santa Clara Street between Market and Third streets, an important first step for the engineering design team also hired in January.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Board awarded a $125 million contract with Mott MacDonald and PGH Wong Engineering to start the engineering design process for BART’s six-mile Phase II extension from the Berryessa Station. 

The contract would cover the first 30 percent of the design engineering efforts for the project, and would be spent before December 2020.

According to VTA’s current schedule, BART could open in downtown San Jose at the end of 2026.

VTA wants the design to start posthaste because it hopes to have the BART extension participate in a federal Expedited Project Delivery (EPD) program.  The Federal Transit Administration plans to make its decision regarding who’s in the EPD program spring 2020.

If accepted in the EPD program, VTA must “assure a firm and reliable project definition, schedule and cost estimate, and demonstrate an overall technical capacity and capability,” according to a VTA staff report.

Inclusion in the EPD program would include the final $1.4 billion in funding for the total $4.7 billion BART expansion.  Federal contributions to the project are capped at 25 percent in the EPD program. The rest of the funding comes from Measures A and B voter-approved sales taxes and regional and state transit program funding.  VTA will use Measure A funds to pay the engineering team.

The 30 percent engineering services includes: refining the project configuration and equipment; answer questions of size, shape and location of project facilities, and evaluate construction methods. The BART extension includes a five-mile tunnel dug with a single bore, four stations, two ventilation structures and systemwide work.

Major construction on the line through downtown isn’t expected until 2020.

Planning efforts for the project began in January 2014 with evaluation of alignment options and environmental studies. VTA manages the construction and BART will take over operation and maintenance when the trains are open for public use.  For more info go to vta.org/BART.