BART lands federal bucks for SJ extension

The Federal Transit Administration has agreed to put $900 million towards the BART extension project in Silicon Valley, an astounding chunk of money that should have BART trains running into Santa Clara County by 2016.

Voters approved a half-cent tax in 2000 for the extension and an 8-cent sales tax in 2008 for maintenance on the future trains. But, like so many BART rides, the progress of the Silicon Valley extension has moved at a snail’s pace.

Residents are now being told that the $900 million from the federal government will get things moving in a matter of weeks. Groundbreaking is scheduled for April and the entire project is budgeted at $2.3 billion.

The project will put an additional million people within 15 minutes of BART via public transit. The San Jose extension is the longest addition to the BART system, now topping the 1992 Dublin-Pleasanton expansion.

Rep. Mike Honda said the FTA’s recommendation to Congress that the plan be approved “is like taking the cork [out] of the sparkling wine, so now we can start pouring.”