- The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) started construction Tuesday on the $4.7 billion Phase II of a 16-mile, six-station extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) service from North San Jose, California, through downtown and into the city of Santa Clara, NBC Bay Area reported.
- Phase II of the project will include a 5-mile subway tunnel, three underground stations, one ground-level station, two mid-tunnel ventilation facilities, a maintenance facility and a storage yard. The VTA will own all of the property, facilities and equipment that are part of the entire expansion project. When it is complete, BART will operate and maintain the system, which is scheduled to open for riders in 2026.
- The VTA contracted with the joint venture of HNTB Corp. and WSP to oversee the project under an $88 million, four-year program management contract. The authority is not expected to start major construction on Phase II until 2020.
In June, the Federal Transit Administration issued a Record of Decision for the project, which allowed the VTA to start engineering work and to apply for a $1.5 billion New Starts grant, but there is never just one source of funding for these types of transit projects. In addition to the $1.5 billion, the project will get another $3.4 billion of local and state money via Measure A and Measure B sales taxes, the California Traffic Congestion Relief Program and the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program. According to a VTA timeline, receipt of the FTA's Full Funding Grant Agreement is not expected until the end of 2020 or beginning of 2021.
At the end of December, the FTA executed a $1.1 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement for Seattle's $3.2 billion, 8.5-mile Lynnwood Link Extension light-rail project. The grant will cover about 36% of the costs, but federal transportation officials said the grant process was helped along by local authorities committing to providing the majority of financing like the VTA has.
The FTA came down hard on the Honolulu City Council in a letter late last year for not taking quick steps to live up to its September 2017 local funding commitment for a $9 billion local rail project. The council finally voted to approve up to $214 million for the rail in November.
The VTA did shave about $50 million from the budget after deciding to go with a single tunnel rather than two. Not only did the move lower costs but it will likely reduce traffic congestion and disruption to local businesses during the construction phase. The VTA's decision to dig just the one tunnel will reportedly take 10 months off the schedule.