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Change of Plans: Transit Funding Priorities Shift in the Silicon Valley

Santa Clara County cities rebel against the agency's proposed plan to spend most of the Measure B funds on a Silicon Valley BART extension.
January 22, 2021, 8am PST | Diana Ionescu | @aworkoffiction
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BART's southern extension will bring the commuter rail to San Jose and Santa Clara.
Sheila Fitzgerald

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is retooling its plan for how to spend Measure B tax dollars after several cities protested the VTA's plan to spend most of the money on the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) extension to downtown San Jose. Now, the agency's revised plan will reallocate the funding to support more projects promised in the measure, reports Aldo Toledo for the Mercury News.

When the VTA proposed Measure B in 2016, "the VTA and supporters of the measure such as Silicon Valley Organization assured voters that that no more than 25% of the about $5.5 billion would go toward the BART extension," assuaging concerns from area cities that the focus on BART took away funds from badly needed local projects like pothole repairs and other road improvements. Santa Clara's Board of Supervisors agreed, rejecting the plan unanimously last month. "The public has been great about taking a regional perspective and supporting BART, but at some point we have to ask how we move people around our county in a way that is environmentally and economically sensible," says Supervisor Joe Simitian in the article.

The new plan, which increases the VTA's cost for the BART extension by over $2.5 billion, includes "$887 million for Caltrain grade separation projects, $156 million for increasing Caltrain’s corridor capacity, $230 million for Highway 85 improvements, $236 million for county expressways, $842 million for highway interchanges and a remaining $1.4 billion to be spent at the board’s discretion," writes Toledo.

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Published on Friday, January 8, 2021 in The Mercury News
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