The largest public transit project in the Bay Area is rapidly moving forward, but there is one major hiccup for Phase II of BART's extension to the South Bay. Phase I is fully funded and should be completed no later than 2018, running BART mass transit trains to both Milpitas and Berryessa. Phase II--which includes stations at Alum Rock, Downtown San Jose, Diridon, and Santa Clara--is now at risk of losing a huge chunk of Federal Funding. Timing is absolutely critical here. The project needs to enter the Federal New Starts Program by the end of 2014, or $1.1 billion of funding could be cut from the project, putting the whole phase at risk.
A four station Phase II BART extension will cost $4.7 billion. That breaks down into $1.1 billion from the Federal New Starts Program, $1.4 billion from Measure A, and a whopping $3 billion is unaccounted for. This puts the project at a high risk of being rejected by the Federal New Starts Program and we would likely need new substantial taxes to fund the $3 billion gap.
So here is the new proposal to get things off the ground and secure most of the funding within the next two months. Let's only build two station in Phase II: Downtown San Jose and Diridon. These will be by far the most utilized stations in the South Bay extension and would result in substantially reducing the cost of Phase II. The total cost would now become $3.4 billion, $1.1 billion from the Federal New Starts Program, $1.4 billion from Measure A, and a $1.7 billion gap. Since more than 50% of the project would be funded, it would greatly improve our chances of getting federal funding.
Personally, while I would love to have the full four stations now... I would gladly take these two over no extension at all (or one delayed to 2030). The Alum Rock and Santa Clara stations could be built in a future Phase III. In fact, my dream scenario for Phase III would be these two stations plus a further extension up north to Levi's Stadium/Great America, Mountain View, and Palo Alto.
We have to start somewhere. What do you guys think about dropping two stations temporarily in order to ensure BART connects with Silicon Valley's urban core?