The US Federal Transit Administration (FTA) has granted approval to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to enter the project development phase of the six-mile Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Silicon Valley Phase II extension in California.
It is reported the approval marks a milestone in the project as it signifies that VTA has pre-award authority under the federal New Starts funding programme to incur costs to advance engineering and design activities to support the environmental review process.
US representative for D-Silicon Valley Mike Honda said: "I have been proud to lead the fight to fund the BART Silicon Valley project in Congress.
"Supporting VTA’s work to build Phase II of the BART extension is critical to our region.
"The support of Congress and the federal government is essential for us to make the investments we need to ease traffic congestion and provide another transportation option for commuters in the valley.
"I am happy to see this important step being taken, and will continue to champion the project as it moves through the New Starts process, so we can make that happen."
Phase II of BART Silicon Valley project includes the construction of a five-mile tunnel through downtown San Jose to complete the 16-mile extension. It will provide a vital transit solution to highly congested and constrained I-880 and I-680 corridors.
Santa Clara County supervisor Cindy Chavez said: "This opens the door to BART moving up the line for federal funding, as we continue through this pivotal year for advancements in transportation in the valley."
Officials of VTA said next month will mark four years of work on its BART Silicon Valley Berryessa Extension (Phase I). It is reported that more than 80% of the construction contract to build the line, track, stations and systems is complete.
BART is expected to start train testing on the ten-mile segment next year. BART Phase I is expected to enter passenger service near the end of 2017.
VTA noted that project development activities are necessary to refine the project’s cost estimate and financial plan.
During this phase, the VTA needs to define the project’s scope after performing an alternatives analysis, identifying a funding plan and completing the environmental review process.
Image: BART to begin train testing on the ten-mile segment in 2017. Photo: courtesy of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).