VTA awarded $125-million federal grant to extend BART lines in South Bay

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The long-awaited BART extension through Downtown San Jose got a boost Thursday. 

The Federal Transit Administration announced it awarded the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority a $125 million grant, to help fast-track the six-mile stretch that would connect the Berryessa Station with the heart of Silicon Valley. 

"This is the first region in the country that's qualified for expedited project delivery," said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. 

The new program targets locations and projects pushing the frontier on mass transit design.

The phase two extension will add four stations in San Jose and Santa Clara. 

"It's a tremendous boost to get the program going," said project spokesperson for BART Bernice Alaniz. "It enables us to start some of the engineering design. It enables us to start to procuring some of the long lead procurement items." 

BART's current end of the line in the area is the Fremont-Warm Springs station. By December, the Berryessa Station is slated to open. With $125 million in its coffers, BART project engineers are able to make conceptual designs, for the new tracks. That includes the cutting-edge single-bore tunnel directly under Downtown San Jose. 

"Which really speeds up the delivery and brings this public infrastructure project to the public for them to use much sooner than traditional grant programs," said Alaniz.

Project officials say the funding will shave 14-months of the project's completion timeline. Some workers say it'll shave time and money off their commute.

"It'll improve my commute. It'll shorten it by at least an hour," said Santa Clara resident and commuter Rebecca Almes.

Mayor Liccardo says getting this first-of-its-kind funding now puts the region in a better position to seek more federal funding later, to complete the $5 billion project.

"By getting this funding it really puts us at the front of the line of many other cities that are trying to get dollars from the federal government for large transit projects like this one. And establishes Silicon Valley as a leader," said Liccardo.