What is BART Silicon Valley?
BART Silicon Valley involves a program of transportation improvements in the SVRT corridor that generally extends from the southern boundary of Alameda County in the City of Fremont through the cities of Milpitas, San Jose, and Santa Clara in Santa Clara County. These improvements include a planned 16-mile, six-station extension of the existing San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART) system into Silicon Valley. The BART Silicon Valley program also includes other related projects and activities required to prepare the rail corridor for BART, such as relocation of existing UPRR tracks and utilities, drainage improvements, and grade separation projects within the alignment that are funded through other sources. BART Silicon Valley is being managed by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) in cooperation with BART. BART Silicon Valley will be constructed in phases. The Berryessa Extension is the first phase.
The Berryessa Extension consists of the design, construction, and future operation of an approximate 10-mile extension of the BART system into Santa Clara County. The Berryessa Extension will connect to the track south of the planned BART Warm Springs Station in Southern Fremont (under construction and opening in 2015) and proceed in the former Union Pacific Railroad corridor through Milpitas to the Berryessa District of San Jose, near Las Plumas Avenue. The alignment is a combination of at-grade, open cut, and aerial guideway configurations, and includes a retained-cut passenger station in Milpitas (Milpitas Station) and an above-ground passenger terminus station in San Jose (Berryessa Station).
The project scope includes new BART vehicles, VTA feeder buses, 10 miles of double-track grade-separated guideway, traction power substations, high voltage substations, a communication system, passenger drop-off facilities, surface and structured parking facilities, bus transit centers, a pedestrian bridge, real estate acquisition, utility relocation, drainage improvements, environmental mitigation, financing, startup and revenue testing, and other elements necessary for project delivery. The project includes facility additions to the existing BART Hayward Yard (located in the City of Hayward approximately 14 miles north of Santa Clara County) for maintenance of BART vehicles.
When passenger service begins, up to 10-car trains on frequencies of approximately 15 minutes, will be operated during peak commute periods on two BART lines: Green Line (Berryessa – Daly City) and Orange Line (Berryessa – Richmond). The extension will include light rail intermodal improvements at the Milpitas Station and new high frequency feeder bus service to connect the Berryessa Station to downtown San Jose and the City of Santa Clara. The projected opening day ridership is approximately 23,000 average weekday riders. Approximately 4,800 parking spaces will be provided to serve projected year 2035 park-and-ride demand. Passenger service is planned to start in Late 2017.
Why BART Silicon Valley?
BART currently provides high-speed, high-capacity, heavy rail service within four counties of the San Francisco Bay Area and connects three of the region's four largest cities: San Francisco, Oakland, and Fremont. The extension will provide service to the Bay Area's and northern California's largest city, San Jose, the “Capital of Silicon Valley.” The full extension will complete a major link in a regional commuter rail network that will circle the San Francisco Bay (refer to Regional Map). Regional connectivity is important to the future of Silicon Valley, the high-technology center of the nation.
Both Santa Clara County and the project corridor are anticipated to continue their remarkable growth well into the future. Regional projections by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) indicate that in the 30-year period from 2005 to 2035, the county’s population will increase by approximately 679,700 people, while households will increase by 210,500, and the county will see jobs increase by 492,900. Project corridor population will increase by approximately 91,000 people, households by 27,000, and jobs by 84,000 within the same period. Jobs will grow faster than households, exacerbating the jobs-housing imbalance and the need for workers to commute longer distances.
The project corridor connects San Francisco Bay Area's heavily-urbanized East Bay with the equally-populated South Bay. Development in the East Bay, including Fremont (population 218,100) and Milpitas (population 71,600) is constrained geographically by the San Francisco Bay on the west and Diablo foothills on the east. Development in the South Bay extends the width of Santa Clara Valley. San Jose (population 1,023,100) occupies the east and central portion of the Valley, which is in Santa Clara County (population 1,880,900). The area from north San Jose into southern San Mateo County on the west side of San Francisco Bay is the heart of Silicon Valley, although as a result of continuing growth over the last 20 years, Silicon Valley has expanded to include Milpitas and southern Alameda County, which are served directly by BART Silicon Valley.
BART Silicon Valley will:
Improve mobility especially for longer-distance commute and other trip purposes in an especially congested travel corridor. Roadways and other transit modes, such as express bus and light rail, are not viable alternatives for meeting future demand. Enhanced mobility is essential for maintaining the long-term economic vitality of one of the most important centers of innovation and job growth in the state of California and the United States.
Enhance transit connectivity by integrating Santa Clara County into the BART regional rail system, which serves a particularly important and growing travel market. BART Silicon Valley is another major step in closing the gap in the regional rail networks that will someday circle lower San Francisco Bay and connect the key activity centers in California's second largest metropolis.
Provide another catalyst to changing the patterns of development in Silicon Valley. Higher density employment and residential growth are occurring in the vicinity of existing and planned transit facilities. BART stations and the connection to VTA light rail in northern Santa Clara County offer the most promising opportunities for transit-oriented development on a large scale.
VTA began studying the Silicon Valley Rapid Transit (SVRT) corridor nearly 30 years ago. Back then, the corridor was referred to as the Fremont-South Bay Corridor and consisted of the heavily congested I-880/I-680 freeway corridor that stretches from the Fremont Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Station to downtown San Jose, which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay (see BART Silicon Valley Regional Map). Also, located in the middle of the two freeways was a Union Pacific Railroad freight rail right-of-way that would later be purchased by VTA.
The BART Silicon Valley project represents the final link needed to complete the 20-mile gap in the regional rail system around San Francisco Bay and tie together the region’s three major metropolitan centers: San Jose, San Francisco, and Oakland.
In November 2000, the voters of Santa Clara County—by a 70.3 percent majority—approved the Measure A Transit Improvement Program , a ½-cent local-transit sales tax that would provide funding for 14 transit projects, including the concept to extend BART to the cities of Milpitas, San Jose, and Santa Clara. This 30-year local sales tax went into effect on April 1, 2006 and will expire on March 31, 2036. Measure A is a capital funding source for BART Silicon Valley.
The final plan followed a number of corridor studies that were completed to determine the feasibility of potential transit solutions, and to determine the best solution. In November 2001, a Major Investment Study/Alternatives Analysis was completed which confirmed that the proposed BART Extension to Milpitas, San Jose, and Santa Clara was the best transit alternative for the I-880/I-680 corridor. When compared with the other alternatives, the BART Extension to Milpitas, San Jose, and Santa Clara offers:
This particular BART alternative also had the highest ridership projections. The ridership forecast for the project is over 90,000 average weekday riders throughout the 20-year planning horizon.In an effort to begin project delivery activities for the transit projects that were identified in Measure A prior to the 2006 tax revenue generation date, the VTA Board of Directors adopted a resolution in August 2003 authorizing the issuance of bonds up to $550 million secured by and payable from the 2000 Measure A Transit Improvement Program. A portion of these bond proceeds was made available to continue project development work related to moving BART Silicon Valley forward.