The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) Board in California, US, has awarded a contract to joint venture firm Skanska-Shimmick-Herzog for the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Silicon Valley project.

BART Silicon Valley project is a 16-mile extension of the existing BART system to San Jose, Milpitas and Santa Clara, which will be delivered in phases.

The contract includes completing the design and construction of the line, track, systems and stations for the Berryessa extension project – the first phase of the 16-mile BART extension into Santa Clara County.

VTA Board chair Margaret Abe Koga said the Skanska-Shimmick-Herzog was able to propose constructing the Berryessa extension at $77m less than the engineer’s estimate, while also accelerating the construction schedule, making it possible to deliver BART sooner than 2018.

The first phase, the Berryessa extension, is a ten-mile, two-station extension. It begins in Fremont, south of the future BART Warm Springs station, and proceeding in the former Union Pacific Railroad right-of-way through Milpitas, the location of the first station, and then to the Berryessa area of north San Jose at the second station.

The authority has revealed that it is carrying out project development activities for the second six-mile phase, which includes a 5.1-mile-long subway tunnel through downtown San Jose that ends at grade in Santa Clara near the Caltrain station.

Construction on the second phase of the project will commence as additional funding is secured.

The extension of BART into the South Bay is a priority project in VTA’s Measure A Transportation Improvement Programme and VTA is seeking a $900m grant from the Federal New Starts funding programme for the Berryessa extension project.

The grant, which is anticipated to be awarded by early next year, will complete the funding plan and enable major construction to begin by mid-2012.

BART Silicon Valley’s Communications and Outreach team will conduct public meetings prior to commencement of major construction activities.