25 September 2008

State to allocate $239 million for BART-to-SJ extension

Gary Richards, a.k.a. Mr. Roadshow, reports that the California Transportation Commission is expected to approve $239 million in additional state funding for the Silicon Valley BART extension. In the process, $91 million is being moved from the Dumbarton Rail project to the BART extension.

The last bit of funding completes the state responsibility. It's now up to Santa Clara County voters to approve Measure B, which is meant to cover operations costs of the extension (it does not claim to guarantee covering those costs). Should the measure pass, the matter would go to the Federal Railroad Administration, which would have to authorize matching funds to pay for $750 million in construction costs. Previously, the FRA didn't support the project in part because of the lack of a method to cover operations costs. The FRA's 2004 decision forced VTA and BART extension supporters to go back to the drawing board in hopes of getting the line built.

Richards ends the article with this appraisal:

But the 2000 measure centered on BART won with a 71 percent approval, by far the biggest margin of victory of five transportation taxes that have gone before voters since 1976. And this week's money boost gives BART backers a head of steam heading into the election.

"Big projects need momentum," said Metropolitan Transportation Commission spokesman Randy Rentschler. "And BART is picking up big momentum."

From a regional transit perspective, losing funding for the Dumbarton Rail project hurts. I sense that priorities shifted a bit when the High Speed Rail commission chose the Pacheco alignment over Altamont, which would likely have required a revamped or all new Dumbarton rail bridge to cross the bay.

November 4th is shaping up to be the biggest election day in a generation.


MikeOnBike said...

The $239M doesn't appear to be new money. It's apparently part of the original $760M that has been counted on all along. It's the same money that was used to justify the 2000 tax.

Also, the $750M they're counting on from the feds sounds like the same figure they've been using all along, despite the couple billion dollar increase in the project cost. So even if they get the federal money, which is far from certain, they're still far short of the total needed.

The Merc article seems to be little more than a press release to drum up support for VTA's 1/8 cent tax which needs a 2/3 vote in November. The point of the article is to make it sound like significant new funding has been found. But other than the $91M taken from the Dumbarton project, it's still business as usual.

LeAndre said...

this is great,

with all my disagreements with Fremont aside, I've always wanted a Bart extension to SJ...not only will it improve traffic congestion and the economy, its just good to have rapid public transportation united through the bay...I've always hated the fact the only 1/3 of the bay is Bart accessible...

I've always had this vision that one day people from San Jose could take the Bart to Marine World one day...we got to take it one step at a time I guess...

By the way, vote yes on prop 1A...

Tony D. said...

I'd say BART is on its way to San Jose REGARDLESS if Measure B (1/8 cent sales tax hike) passes. Way to much money and momentum now for BART/SJ. If Lew Wolff has an alternative financing plan for Cisco Field, I'm sure the VTA has an alternative funding plan for BART/SJ maintenance/operations (if Measure B fails). Perhaps the SJ Redevelopment Agency could foot the bill (or at least half the annual $50 million) in exchange for new redevelopment districts (Diridon/Arena?). The other half could be paid for by VTA by cutting pork elsewhere. Measure B passes great...fails, not the end of the world. Thoughts R.M.? By the way Rob, I don't own a Mac ;o)

Marine Layer said...

Redevelopment funds have a single purpose, and that has nothing to do with operating costs for anything - transit, government services, etc.

There are a lot of angry VTA riders/supporters who believe the BART extension is the pork.

MikeOnBike said...

Tony D. said... "I'd say BART is on its way to San Jose REGARDLESS if Measure B (1/8 cent sales tax hike) passes. ... I'm sure the VTA has an alternative funding plan for BART/SJ maintenance/operations (if Measure B fails)."

Yes, VTA already has enough money to build BART to the Berryessa (San Jose) station, including covering the shortfalls in the Warm Springs budget.

But they don't have enough to build the entire thing, even if the new tax passes, even if they get another $750M from the feds, and still build the other projects in the 2000 Measure A tax.

This new tax *is* the alternative funding plan. They tried and failed to pass a general sales tax with the county in 2006, and that only required a majority vote.

Eventually, VTA has to decide to build only what they can afford. They'll have to decide that sooner if the 1/8 cent tax fails. They'll waste a few more years if it passes.

Either way, BART will eventually get extended to Warm Springs, Milpitas, and Berryessa. The only question is when.

Tony D. said...

Thanks for the re: R.M. When I see VTA buses running after 8pm with one rider, or VTA Light-rail cars running with NO riders, I'd guess it's safe to say that BART supporters like myself see a lot pork that can be chopped, if necessary. SJRA scenario simply thinking outside the box. AND YES TO PROP. 1A (spread the word)

Jeffrey said...

Is there a good map depicting the eventual plan for SJ Bart? I have read many things about BART to SJ changing course as far as stations and what not goes... does anybody have maps of the various possibilities?

Marine Layer said...

You can see a map here.

A year ago VTA finalized the stops should the extension go all the way through. Originally the plan was to have two stops in downtown SJ plus Diridon Station. That has been cut to one downtown plus Diridon. The dev plan for the Berryessa station - where the flea market sits - was approved as well.

John DeJulio said...

Does anyone know how the VTA will incorporate the existing Great Mall/Main transit center with BART? The transit center is one of the largest in the county (if not the largest), yet sits about 1/2 mile north of the planned BART station in Milpitas. From a logistics perspective it seems awkward.

Marine Layer said...

Based on the station area plan, it looks like the existing transit center will stay intact. The new transit center will cover a triangular parcel between the Capitol Ave station and the BART station.

I think the rationale here is that the new transit center is 1/2 half mile away from the existing one. For some that could be a substantial walk. My guess is that there won't be the extensive set of bus shelters at the BART station, it'll be more like one of the urban stations that way.

Anonymous said...

Hey ML,

I know its the wrong thread, but did you catch the blurb in the merc about Amy Trask of the Raiders supposedly working with Oakland officials on a new stadium?

This from Al Davis at his press conference.

I think that when the Raiders DO move back down south, Davis (if he is still alive) will just say that he tried to make it work, but couldnt, so back to LA he goes.