FREMONT, Calif. (KTVU) - BART’s Warm Springs Extension, which connects the Fremont Station to the new Warm Springs/South Fremont station, will open for service on March 25, 2017.
It's a 5.4 mile extension and a major step forward in the effort to erect a rail loop around the entire Bay Area, which has been a dream for at least 50 years and 2017 will see major progress towards that goal.
Construction on the 5.4 mile Warm Springs BART extension and station began in 2009 and ended last summer. Since then, the almost $900 million project has undergone extensive testing and has now been certified for passenger use.
The project is on time and expected to be under budget.
"This is a big milestone for two reasons," BART spokesman Jim Allison said. "It's gonna serve people in south Fremont who haven't had a choice in terms of using the Nimitz Freeway, which can be nightmarish at times and it's also gonna bring us right to the edge of Santa Clara County which means we can get to the next part of BART to Silicon Valley."
According to BART, the new station has more than 2,000 parking posts with 42 electric car charging stations.
“This will be history in the making,” said BART Director Tom Blalock, who serves Fremont and has been a leader in making the extension a reality. “This will bring BART service to the residents of fast growing south Fremont. They’ll have a reliable, environmentally-responsible alternative to driving on the sometime nightmarish Nimitz Freeway.”
The Milpitas and Berryessa stations, which extend another 10 miles into Silicon Valley, are expected to open before the end of the year.
"You're looking at a total of about 16 more miles of BART towards San Jose," Allison said, leaving leaves four more stations for BART to get into the heart of Silicon Valley: Alum Rock, Diridon, San Jose and Santa Clara.
The new Warm Springs station boasts artwork for passengers to enjoy and has a huge solar array system capable of generating a half megawatt of electricity -- enough power to service the daytime needs of the both the Warm Springs and Fremont stations.
Despite having 2,000 parking spaces at Warm Springs, demand for them is already high.
"The monthly reserved permits were sold out in one day," Allison said.
At the Fremont BART station, riders told us Warm Springs is in for a treat.
"It's a big help to them," said Lucky Singh. "So it makes the commute faster for them instead of being stuck on 880 or maybe 680."
"Plus, when people go out at night, they'll be able to go downtown so that's exciting," said Donovan Scott.
"A lot of people need to go out that direction and the traffic is really bad," said Yisarah Hampton.
Initially, about 7,000 passengers a day are expected to use the Warm Springs station, which could ease traffic on the Nimitz Freeway.
BART says this extension paves the way for BART to Silicon Valley, a Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority project that’s underway and is expected to open for service later this year.
There will be an Opening Celebration at 10 a.m. until noon on Friday March 24, 2017 for anyone interested in the new station.
KTVU reporter Tom Vacar contributed to this report.