Proponents of BART to San Jose got an unexpected gift in the
$286 billion federal transportation bill that
’s about to become law.
Proponents of BART to San Jose got an unexpected gift in the $286 billion federal transportation bill that’s about to become law. Buried among hundreds of road construction projects is a provision that will exempt the $5-billion project from federal cost-efficiency rules that had jeopardized BART’s funding.

“That’s good news,” said Don Gage, a county supervisor who also sits on the board of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. “I have no problem with BART as long as we can afford it, and if we can get federal funding, that would be great.”

The project has suffered under new cost-efficiency rules implemented by the Federal Transportation Administration. Earlier this year, the FTA gave the project a thumbs down because ridership projections make the 16.3-mile extension through downtown to the Mineta San Jose International Airport unlikely to recoup construction costs. Officials had successfully petitioned the FTA to study a cheaper, above-ground segment of the project to see if it would qualify for as much as $900 million in federal grants.

Now the VTA can qualify for those funds without proving the cost-effectiveness of the project. Stuart Cohen, a public transit advocate who is against bringing BART to San Jose, said the decision means South County projects are now in grave danger because the VTA’s resources will be poured into BART.

“It’s proof that BART to San Jose doesn’t make any financial sense,” said Cohen, director of the Transportation and Land Use Committee in Oakland. “Worst of all, for folks in south Santa Clara County, it means that every other project will be delayed or even canceled.”

Matt King covers Santa Clara County for The Times. Reach him at 847-7240 or [email protected].

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A staff member wrote, edited or posted this article, which may include information provided by one or more third parties.


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