San Jose BART extension could cost $9.1B, almost double original estimates

The Federal Transit Administration indicates VTA underestimated how much the six-mile extension will cost

San Francisco /
Oct.October 26, 2021 01:00 PM
Federal officials have indicated that the Valley Transportation Authority underestimated the cost for the four-station extension (Valley Transportation Authority, iStock)

A six-mile, four-station San Jose extension of BART may cost over $9 billion, almost double the original estimate.

The Federal Transit Administration revealed the new estimate as it said it will provide either a quarter of the final cost of $2.3 billion, whichever is less, SiliconValley.com reported. That suggests the entire project will cost $4.4 billion more than originally thought.

The Valley Transportation Authority, which is building the extension, said in 2019 that it would cost $4.7 billion and be finished by 2026. That completion date has now been pushed back to 2030.

Federal officials have indicated that the VTA underestimated the cost, and said its new estimate takes into account “additional risk and contingencies,” such as increased costs for labor or supplies.

Under its agreement with the Federal Transit Administration, the VTA has two years to issue contract bids and finalize the price tag.

The extension, which will run from East San Jose to Santa Clara, won’t use the traditional dual-bore tunneling method that tear up chunks of Santa Clara Street. A single-bore technique aims to minimize disruptions by tunneling deeper from underground. The tunnel will be 48 feet wide and will accommodate two trains.

While the VTA says the new method would be cheaper and faster,it has some potential drawbacks. Passengers would have to use more escalators reach deeper stations, for example. Federal officials are urging the VTA and BART to reconsider the plans, saying the single-bore method will ultimately cost too much.

“VTA needs to be taking a strong look at the federal government’s estimate and figuring out what decisions have led to this and how to address it moving forward,” the Bay Area Council’s senior vice president of public policy, Gwen Litvak, told SiliconValley.com “The fact that we expect there will always be more money from the voters or from the federal government is just not true.”

[SiliconValley] — Victoria Pruitt





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