BART Extension Already Benefiting Silicon Valley
On April 12, 2012, VTA broke ground on the Berryessa Extension Project, the first 10 miles of the 16 mile, six station BART extension. The 10 mile, two station Berryessa Extension begins in southern Fremont and extends through Milpitas and northeast San José. Even before the first shovel hit the ground, Santa Clara County residents, employers, and businesses were seeing signs of the project's employment, economic, development and mobility benefits.
Now after years of construction, Santa Clara County is experiencing the project benefits first hand: Thousands of jobs were created, and housing for thousands has been built. Millions of square feet of development has occurred, and our communities are protected with better flood control and safer ways for pedestrian and cyclists to move about. These benefits have increased since passenger service began on June 13, 2020.
New Transit Centers with BART Stations Spur Redevelopment
Adjacent to the Milpitas Transit Center are hundreds of new, high-density housing units, as well as office space, hotel rooms and retail space. The City of Milpitas paved the way in 2008 with the adoption of the Milpitas Transit Area Specific Plan. In the plan, approximately 437 acres of previously zoned industrial land was slated for redevelopment and uses that better support a major transportation hub. It called for 7,577 units of housing; 1.05 million square feet of office space; 642 hotel rooms; and 2.24 million square feet of retail space centered around the new BART Station and VTA light rail.
The area surrounding the Berryessa Transit Center exhibits the redevelopment potential as well, with new housing and employment opportunities replacing less intensive land uses. The station is adjacent to the expansive Berryessa Flea Market and parking lots that include land on both sides of Berryessa Road. The Flea Market has been rezoned as a Planned Development Zoning District. Currently, single-family homes and apartments have been developed on a portion of the land north Berryessa Road. Higher density, mixed used development is anticipated closer to the new station.
The City of San José is currently working through an urban village plan for the Berryessa station area. San José defines an urban village as a walkable, bicycle-friendly, transit-oriented, mixed-use, high density setting that provides both housing and jobs. The amount of residential capacity in the Urban Village is 5,100 dwelling units.
Mission/Warren Area Improvements in Fremont
During corridor preparations, VTA maximized public dollars and community benefits by coordinating with station and local transportation partners to construct major mobility improvements in the City of Fremont. As a result, the Mission/Warren Area Improvement Project included widening a section of Mission Boulevard from four to six lanes, building new on- and off-ramps between Kato Road and Mission Boulevard, trenching Warren Avenue under the existing Union Pacific Railroad and future BART system, and building five new bridges over Warren Avenue and Mission Boulevard to carry both Union Pacific freight trains and the future BART trains. Commuters are now benefitting from improved traffic flow between I-880 and I-680, and pedestrians and cyclists have safer sidewalks and bikeways.
11 Grade Separations Completed
BART is a fully grade separated system, meaning the trains travel under or over every major intersection. This makes the BART system efficient because there is no need for trains to stop at intersections. It also allows vehicles, bicycles, and pedestrians to safely cross over or under the train tracks. A total of 11 grade separated intersections have been completed as part of the Berryessa Extension Project. In Milpitas, BART trains travel under Dixon Landing Road, Montague Expressway and Capitol Avenue. In San José, they travel under Trade Zone Boulevard, Hostetter Road, and the Sierra Road/Lundy Avenue intersection. The last mile of the extension is elevated above ground. The tracks begin to ride just north of Berryessa Road, are elevated at the Berryessa/North San José Station, and travel over Mabury Road.
When building a project of this size, protecting natural resources is paramount. Three significant environmental mitigation projects were completed as part of the Berryessa Extension Project. In San José's Alum Rock Park, work was done to remove a fish barrier, expand a floodplain, repair erosion, remove non-native vegetation and improve the overall habitat for steelhead fish. Work was also done to preserve a 1930's historic bridge. In addition, trash was removed from the Upper Penitencia Creek, which passes through the Berryessa Transit Center. This area has now been transformed into a picturesque habitat that includes a meandering floodplain populated by ducks and native plants. It is also conducive to growing the native fish population. Finally, an eight acre mitigation site at Wrigley Creek in Milpitas was established. At the site, fish and wildlife habitat were enhanced, storage capacity for flood waters was created and special status plant species, such as the Congdon's tar plant, were replanted.
In addition to crossing roadways, the Berryessa Extension Project crosses 10 large creeks. Improvements to these creeks, including re-engineered banks and concrete box culverts, were constructed to help protect the community and the BART system from future flooding. Berryessa Creek, which experienced major flooding in 1982, 1983, and 1998, was widened and re-engineered in two separate locations to increase flow capacity and eliminate sharp curves. The benefits of these improvements were realized in 2017 when the improvement areas avoided flooding during historic rainfall levels.
Major Utilities Relocated
There are 13 major utilities that travel alongside, cross under the rail corridor or pass through the station areas. All of these utilities, which include electric, natural gas, hydrogen fuel, communications, water, sewer, and storm drains had to be relocated. With these relocations came improvements to the integrity, location and integration of these utilities.
New and Enhanced Roadways
As part of the Berryessa Extension Project roadways were also added, extended or enhanced around the new transit centers to address traffic and provide convenient, direct access to station parking and pick-up/drop-off areas. For example, South Milpitas Boulevard, which was extended from Montague Expressway to Capitol Avenue at the Milpitas Transit Center, provides an additional point of access to the Milpitas BART Station and adjacent development, in addition to alleviating traffic congestion at the Great Mall Parkway/Capitol Avenue and Montague Expressway intersection. Montague Expressway was also widened with an additional lane for both east and west bound traffic, which will alleviate congestion in the area for commuters. Berryessa Station Way was constructed through the center of the Berryessa Transit Center. This new roadway will reduce traffic impacts on Berryessa and Mabury Roads.
Noise and Vibration Mitigation
Before VTA began construction, environmental analysis identified mitigation measures to reduce noise and vibration impacts from BART train operations. While state and federal regulations do not require mitigation measures to be in place until passenger service begins, VTA began work on a Residential Boise Insulation Program during early construction, so residents could benefit from noise insulation as soon as possible. Homes determined to potentially have interior noise levels greater than government thresholds received improvements such as multi-pane windows and insulation. All improvements have been completed for homes whose owners participated in the program. Other noise mitigation measures that are part of the project include new sound walls, noise and vibration absorbing materials under the tracks, and equipment enclosures.