BART could be rolling to San Jose in 5 years

It looks like you’ll be able to find your way down to San Jose on the new BART line sooner than expected — about 18 months sooner to be exact.

Project director Mark Massman predicts the 10-mile Santa Clara County line from Fremont to San Jose’s Berryessa area could open just in time for Christmas 2016.

This week the Valley Transportation Authority approved $772 million to begin construction of the $2.3 billion extension. Now, the project just needs the approval of the Federal Transit Administration in February to receive more federal funding.

And to sweeten the deal even further, the winning bid ended up coming in $77 million under the VTA’s estimate. VTA vice chairman Sam Liccardo said,

“It’s $77 million under budget and over a year ahead of schedule. What’s not to like? This is a no-brainer.”

Some pretty lucrative incentives will probably help speed up the process: Construction companies were promised $100,000 for each day they finish early. But companies can also be charged $75,000 per day they finish late.

Work on the project has already started with crews expecting to spend most of next year moving utility lines and demolishing buildings in Milpitas and San Jose, where two new stations will be built.