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Tuesday, 11 March 2014 12:04cat

BART Expansion Project One Year Ahead of Schedule

Written by  TheStructuralEngineer.info
Construction has begun on the Berryessa station Construction has begun on the Berryessa station Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group

The Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system expansion project is a full year ahead of schedule due to a lack of rain over the last two years. The $3.2 billion project will extend the line by 16 miles from the San Francisco, California area to southern Freemont, Milpitas, and San Jose. The extension to Beerysea was supposed to be finished in 2018, but now Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) officials expect it to be completed by late 2017.

The BART system currently has five routes on 104 miles of line. The heavy-rail public transit system began operation in 1972, and it currently is the fifth-busiest heavy-rail transit system in the United States with over 370,000 weekday riders. The current expansion project, referred to as the BART Sillicon Valley project, will begin at the future Warm Springs Station in Freemont and continue south 16 miles into Santa Clara County with stops in Milpitas, San Jose, and Santa Clara. The project is separated into two phases, the first of which will build the northernmost 10-mile stretch of track. In addition to the Warm Springs station that is expected to open for service in 2015, the Silicon Valley project will create six new stations and a new maintenance and storage yard. 

The project broke ground in 2012 and was expected to have the majority of construction finished by 2016. Then, BART would conduct extensive testing on the line during 2017 and it would open for passenger service in 2018.  However, the dry weather the area has been facing, significantly helped construction workers dig the trenches necessary to lay the line’s track and has moved up the project completion date. In addition to the cooperative weather, work is ahead of schedule for a number of other reasons. The majority of the line will be built along old Union Pacific Tracks meaning there is less work to do than if the line were started from scratch.  Santa Clara and Alameda counties also recently passed three local taxes to fund most of the construction, and there has been very little political fighting throughout the project.

The BART extension project is being built to ease congestion along the I-880 and I-680 commute corridors. A study carried out by the VTA showed that an extension to the BART system was the best transit solution to alleviate the congestion on the east side of the Bay Area. The BART Silicon Valley will support 2,500 jobs annually and will be directly and indirectly responsible for creating jobs during length of the project. According to the VTA, “In addition to creating jobs, the project will help the local economy, enhance regional connectivity, alleviate traffic congestion, and improve access to employment, education, medical, and retail centers. Opening day ridership for the Berryessa Extension is estimated at 23,000 and that number is projected to double after 15 years.” 

BART officials hope that the line can eventually be extended another six miles into downtown San Jose. The project would cost $4 billion to construct due to the need to build a tunnel for part of the route.  The VTA currently only has $2 billion in funding for the project. No timetable has been given for the project.  

Sources: San Jose Mercury NewsVTA.org

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