A Federal Transit Administration report indicates the first phase of the BART extension project to San Jose is qualified to receive millions of dollars in federal funding, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority announced this week.

The VTA will now be able to compete with other transit agencies across the country for the funds as part of the transit administration’s New Starts Program. The funds will go toward the first phase of the project, a 10-mile, two station extension, from Fremont to the Berryessa area in north San Jose.

The preliminary engineering phase of the project has begun and it is expected to enter into the final engineering phase next year, in time to be eligible for a funding recommendation again.

The project received a “medium” rating by the FTA. In a statement, Sam Liccardo, chairman of the VTA board and a San Jose councilman, said the rating indicates that the project will compete well against other transit nationally.

The VTA is requesting $900 million in funding through the New Starts Program.
“This adds yet another significant milestone to the rear view of BART’s journey to Silicon Valley… and it keeps BART on track to begin carrying Santa Clara County riders by 2018,” Liccardo said.

Santa Clara County voters approved a 30-year one-half cent sales tax to raise funds for the extension of BART to San Jose, Milpitas and Santa Clara in November 2000. In November 2008, voters approved an additional one-eighth cent sales tax for operation of the extension.

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