Rail testing resumes for San Jose BART extension

BART officials announced Friday that rail testing will resume on its line from Warm Springs to the soon-to-open Berryessa Station in San Jose. 

That’s the last leg before the service goes underground into downtown. Construction signs and cones are out, and starting the week of January 21, BART gets down to business of determining what’s underground in Downtown San Jose.

“We really have to understand the soil conditions and where the utilities are placed underground in the path of this project,” said Brandi Childress, a spokeswoman for the Valley Transportation Authority, which is overseeing Phase II into Downtown San Jose.

She says crews will burrow into the sidewalks along Santa Clara Street, from Market to North 3rd Street. They’ll then test the soil, mark utility lines, and make sure there aren’t artifacts needing removal before digging begins. BART is using a single-bore option, with north and south bound tracks on top of each other inside of side-by-side, to reduce traffic disruptions.

“I think VTA and BART have agreed on a very innovative approach – the single bore. So that we preserve our downtown as we’re doing construction on the tunnel that’ll bring BART to San Jose,” said Teresa Alvarado, the executive director of SPUR San Jose.

Before the promised benefits of BART’s extension, local businesses must deal with the cooling effect blocked streets and a single lane of traffic on a main thoroughfare – Santa Clara – could have on their coffers. At Angelou’s Taqueria on Santa Clara and 2nd streets, there’s cautious optimism.

“Of course it will have some effect on it, but we don’t know exactly what it will be,” said manager Lupita Cajica.

Next door at the newly opened Formula Sports Nutrition shop, managers say heavy lifting now will pay dividends down the road.

“I think that this will be a minor setback for a little while, but set up for a huge advantage in the long run,” said Anthony Woods.

Drilling is set to begin the week of the 21st, with noise levels similar to lawnmowers. That will last seven weeks. Tunnel construction, if there are no delays, would begin in 2020, and take about six years to complete.