rendering of downtown San Jose BART station
Funding BART to Silicon Valley: One Step at a Time

OF COURSE we’re counting on the federal government to help pay for BART Silicon Valley. Why wouldn’t we? The Mercury News lobbed another uninformed assertion at VTA’s Silicon Valley BART Extension project. It contends VTA has no “plan B” if the expected federal funding for BART Silicon Valley Phase II is not as much as we anticipate.

Here are the facts:

This project is on the verge of an historic investment by the federal government. The Federal Transit Administration process requires the VTA to bring forward one plan for funding--not a range of options. All major infrastructure projects around the country seeking federal funding proceed the same way. At a time when the Biden Administration and Congress have made historic levels of infrastructure funding available, we need to work within the FTA process to maximize our chance of success.

VTA is well versed in the process for receiving federal approval and funding of large projects.  The FTA came through with nearly a billion dollars for Phase One of this project and the benefits in Milpitas and Berryessa/North San Jose are visible with development soaring nearby.

We know there must be many multi-layered contingency plans that can and will be considered, if needed, once a funding decision is made by the Feds. But there is no benefit to be gained by publicly negotiating against ourselves as we seek the maximum amount of Federal funding to lower the burden on local taxpayers.

If the federal government funds BSVII at a lower level than we expect, we will work transparently with our Board to address the shortfall. That process and that work will only happen when we know what shortfall we need to plan for. 

If federal funding for this nationally important transportation infrastructure project is less than anticipated, we won’t be starting from scratch to scramble for a plan to continue working on this.  But first things first.

No transit agency ever expects to find a pot of gold for infrastructure projects. Should VTA not receive the full amount we’re expecting from the federal government, the VTA will be prepared to quickly pivot in pursuit of alternative funding should the need arise. No further action is currently needed.

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