excavator at Groundbreaking event
VTA Breaks Ground on Final Phase of BART Extension Project

On Friday, June 14th Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) held a historic groundbreaking ceremony to mark the start of construction of its West Portal facility. This is the site where the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) will be assembled and launched to bore the five-mile underground tunnel for the BART Silicon Valley Phase II Extension Project (Phase II Project). This milestone event was held at the future Santa Clara Station and Newhall Yard & Maintenance Facility located in San José and Santa Clara, CA. Approximately 240 guests attended the event including state and local elected officials, community leaders, project stakeholders, and union representatives from Laborers Local 270. 

VTA’s extension of the regional BART system is the largest transportation infrastructure project in the history of Santa Clara County. It will integrate Santa Clara County with the greater Bay Area BART system, enhancing regional connectivity and providing numerous economic, environmental, and social benefits.  

The event commenced with speeches by elected officials and major stakeholders that highlighted the benefits of this transformative infrastructure project, which was followed by the traditional “Golden Shovel” ceremony.    

VTA Board Chair Chavez speaking
Groundbreaking cookies

Notable quotes from speakers included: 

  • Carolyn Gonot, VTA General Manager and CEO, underscored VTA’s commitment to this transformative project, stating, “VTA has been unwavering in its commitment to this project. Our goal is to provide efficient, sustainable transit solutions that serve the needs of our growing communities.” 

  • Cindy Chavez, Santa Clara County Supervisor and VTA Board Chair, emphasized the job opportunities and regional environmental benefits, adding, “[Santa Clara County] is not stopping, we’re not slowing down, we’re going to continue to be the center of innovation. Projects like this are good for our community, with the 75,000 jobs this project will bring, including good union jobs.” 

  • Carl Guardino, California Transportation Commission Chair, highlighted the crucial role of state support in delivering the project that voters supported, “As I stand beside former San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzalez, we had a simple but important dream to ring the bay with rail, and we are going to realize that dream, 30 years in the making.” 

  • Matt Mahan, City of San Jose Mayor, highlighted the lasting impact this project will have, saying, “Connecting people to the heart of Silicon Valley will create opportunity for the future. We have the responsibility to make decisions that will be transformative for not just us, but for generations to come.” 

  • Lisa Gilmore, City of Santa Clara Mayor, highlighted the importance of prioritizing equitable access, saying, “By prioritizing equitable access and affordable housing, the Phase II Project reflects Santa Clara’s commitment to inclusive growth and social equity.” 

Other speakers included: 

  • Ash Kalra, State Representative 

  • Bevan Dufty, BART Board Member  

  • Ron Gonzales, President & CEO of the Hispanic Foundation of Silicon Valley 

  • Jared Shawlee, President of the San Jose Earthquakes Soccer Team 

speakers with golden shovels

To design and deliver the Phase II Project, VTA has collaborated closely with community groups, stakeholders, and local businesses, forming Community Working Groups, Design Review Committees, and the Small Business Task Force, to ensure the Phase II Project meets the community’s needs.  

The Phase II Project promotes inclusive, transit-oriented communities and supports the development of 60 million square feet, including affordable housing. These communities foster diverse economic opportunities and sustainable, vibrant neighborhoods. By prioritizing equitable access and affordable housing, the project connects 1.7 million transit-dependent riders annually to high-quality transit, reflecting VTA’s commitment to inclusive growth and social equity. 

Santa Clara County commuters will benefit from an average travel time saving of 30 minutes for a 50-mile commute. Bay Area residents will gain access to 1 million jobs in Silicon Valley, while 2 million people will have access to 3.5 million jobs in Santa Clara County. The shift from car use to BART is projected to reduce annual CO emissions by 50 tons and greenhouse gas emissions by 19,500 tons by 2040. 

Planned to begin passenger service in 2037, the Phase II Project will foster sustainable living and economic growth in the Bay Area, by enhancing regional BART connectivity. It will provide equitable transit opportunities for diverse, transit-oriented communities, reduce traffic congestion, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and improve access to jobs, education, and healthcare. 

For more information on the Phase II Project, please visit the project website at www.VTABART.org

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