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BART Still Looking For The Way To San Jose

The future of Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) service in the South Bay became less clear in March. The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) learned in March that a planned extension of BART from Fremont into downtown San Jose and on to Santa Clara will be delayed by an unknown number of years because of lower-than-expected sales tax revenues. A VTA consultant reported that after inflation is considered, sales tax revenues will remain flat through 2036. Revenues from the Measure A 2000 sales tax override for numerous transportation projects will generate only about $7 billion, rather than the expected $11 billion.

Estimated to cost $6 billion, the 16-mile BART extension had been scheduled for completion by 2018. Faced with the poor revenue forecast, Valley Transportation Authority officials now say they may build the extension in segments, with the final piece to downtown San Jose and Santa Clara not being completed before 2025. The news of the sales tax revenues arrived only five months after Santa Clara County voters approved an additional one-eighth-cent sales tax for the BART project.

In the meantime, two former BART board members and a transit advocacy organization have sued the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Agency for allocating $313 million to help fund a 5.4-mile BART extension through Fremont to the city's Warm Springs District.

The group Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund and former BART Directors Sherman Lewis and Roy Nakadegawa argue that a 2000 Alameda County sales tax measure bars use of that revenue source for the Fremont project until full funding for BART to Santa Clara is assured. The Alameda County agency has allocated $224 million in sales tax revenue to the project. The plaintiffs also say MTC cannot shift $91 million in bridge toll increase money from a proposed Dumbarton Bridge train project to the BART extension.

The plaintiffs have asked a judge to block construction of the line to Warm Springs, which is scheduled to begin this summer. The Santa Clara County BART extension would take off from the Warm Springs station.

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