Another big pile of state money is kickstarting BART’s extension into downtown San Jose and Santa Clara, which will come in handy, as authorities now admit the total project cost will indeed be about $9 billion.
It was not even three weeks ago when Governor Gavin Newsom announced his intention to slash $2 billion from state transit funding, with the state apparently now looking at a $22.5 billion deficit. That seemed to mean bad news for wildly ambitious (and costly) projects like BART’s second Transbay Tube and the San Jose extension. Yes somehow, the state of California just found several hundred million dollars in between the couch cushions, as KPIX reports that BART San Jose extension was just awarded another $375 million from the supposedly cash-strapped state.
“This new award brings the state’s total commitment through the Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) to $1.125 billion,” the Valley Transportation Authority said in release. “This infusion of funds is an important step for VTA to qualify for roughly $4.6 billion in a federal contribution, approximately 50% of the estimated project cost.”
Hmmm, there's something very telling in that statement. If $4.6 billion is “approximately 50% of the estimated project cost,” then the whole thing would cost $9 billion. And that $9 billion figure has been widely reported. But boy did San Jose officials, and then-mayor Sam Liccardo, push back like mad last May saying $9 billion was not an accurate price tag (including complaints to this publication) which argued that $9 billion was the “worst plausible probable scenario cost.” But it seems like that’s the number officials have settled on now.
If you’re not familiar with this proposed extension, the map above explains it. That Berryessa/North San Jose station has been up and running since 2020. This project adds four more stations over a six-mile stretch (three if you don't include the existing Diridon Station), reaching all the way to Santa Clara. $9 billion for six miles sounds like an awfully steep price, but we’re talking digging tunnels through a highly populated downtown area here.
VTA touts in their release that the project will; “support approximately 75,000 jobs.” New San Jose mayor Matt Mahan says in a separate release, "I look forward to working with our state and federal partners to secure the remaining resources needed to fulfill the immense promise of this once-in-a-generation infrastructure investment."
Yes, but whose generation? This thing is currently scheduled to start construction next year, but is not expected to be finished until 2034. And yes it will surely jobs, but the construction mess will surely cost San Jose businesses, and likely create some overall productivity loss with traffic backups and such. That said, if they really can get the state and feds to pay for half of it, then it’s a great investment whose dividends we can look forward to enjoying in another 12 years or so.
Image: City of San Jose