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12/13/2005



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Santa Clara VTA temporarily withdraws BART extension from 'New Starts' process


Last week, Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) officials asked the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to temporarily withdraw the Bay Area Rapid Transit extension to the Silicon Valley from preliminary engineering as part of the federal "New Starts" process.

In September, VTA submitted a report to the administration for the annual New Starts update, which will be released in February. The report predicts higher ridership, but also forecasts a $700 million increase in project costs. VTA officials expect the FTA to deny their New Starts funding request, so the agency will try to improve the project’s cost effectiveness.

In the meantime, the authority plans to proceed with preliminary engineering, and environmental and planning work using local funds.

“The majority of New Starts funding is awarded for final design and construction,” said VTA General Manager Michael Burns in a prepared statement. “By using local funding for the preliminary engineering and environmental work, we can focus our efforts on securing federal funds during the final design phase.”

The $4.7 billion, 16.3-mile extension would operate between the future BART Warm Springs Station in Fremont, Calif., and the cities of Milpitas, San Jose and Santa Clara. The line is expected to attract more than 111,000 passengers each weekday.


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