We're back to the Republicans' favorite game of using "San Francisco" as a stand-in for everything detestable about liberals. And at the Conservative Political Action Conference over the weekend, California congressmen Devin Nunes and Kevin McCarthy latched on to some BART funding that is in the current $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill as an example of excessive liberal spending.
BART is set to receive $140 million to help accelerate — and not even fully fund — the project to extend the BART tracks in the East Bay down into San Jose. Some of these funds may go toward the ultimate goal of tunneling into downtown San Jose, but really we're still a long way from that becoming a reality. And given BART's general budget woes following a year of record-low ridership, the money is meant to keep the project from being put on indefinite hold, getting more expensive the more time that passes.
Nunes, whose 22nd District represents Fresno and Visalia and who spent part of last year suing Twitter over a parody account about him, doesn't have the greatest grasp on the geography here, but this was probably just a talking point he was handed anyway.
"We already know that part of this money is going to go to build a tunnel from Silicon Valley to San Francisco," Nunes said at CPAC on Saturday, per ABC 7. "These tech oligarchs are the last people that need anybody's money, and they sure as hell don't need a tunnel from Silicon Valley to San Francisco."
BART Board Member Bevin Dufty responded with a comment to ABC 7 saying, "Devin Nunes doesn't even know the route of BART and what's underground or not."
BART has been planning to bring trains to San Jose for about 40 years, and last year the very first trains arrived in North San Jose at Berryessa Station, opening to the public last June after considerable delays along with Milpitas Station. So, technically there already is a "tunnel from Silicon Valley to San Francisco" and it's called the Transbay Tube.
As Dufty explains to ABC 7, the $140 million coming from the latest relief bill will be put toward building the six miles of track that are the next phase of the project, Phase II of what's called the BART Silicon Valley Extension Program. Five of the six miles will be underground, as BART intends to connect Berryessa/North San Jose Station to Downtown San Jose and Diridon stations.
"The purpose of these funds is about accelerating projects," Dufty says.
And this is really just a drop in the bucket given that this entire phase of the project, at last count, was estimated to cost $5.51 billion and take until 2030 to complete.
McCarthy chimed in about the BART project at CPAC too, but he had some other angle that was just as much of a misdirection.
"The Socialists have brought the swamp back," McCarthy said. "$140 million for a tunnel near Pelosi's district, and when Republicans tried to redirect that money to provide mental health services for kids, every single Democrat voted against the kids."
Anyway, the CPAC faithful also spent the weekend unironically worshiping at the feet of a golden Trump statue, so maybe we should just go back to ignoring these moronic monsters until the next time they nominate Trump to be president.
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