No Train to SJ Airport

Transportation head recommends delaying several projects to
bring BART to San Jose
Gilroy – Environmental improvements to Caltrain, a rail link to the San Jose airport and trolley service in east San Jose have been pushed aside as transportation planners try to bring BART to Silicon Valley.

In the final version of a funding strategy to build the $4.5-billion BART project by 2018, Michael Burns, the new head of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, recommended delaying those projects to free up money for BART.

“The things we chose to delay are based on our ability to provide funding under sales tax projections,” VTA spokeswoman Jayme Kunz said. “If we were to build all of the projects, we would be $1.9 billion over those projections over 30 years.”

The rail extension to the airport will be replaced with cheaper bus services and Kunz said the other projects may be built if economic conditions improve.

She said many projects promised by the 1996 measure B sales tax came in under budget, allowing improvements on Highway 152 in front of Gilroy Foods to go forward after they were initially delayed.

The plan will be considered by the VTA board of directors Nov. 3. It includes a quarter-cent sales tax measure to fund BART and a variety of other projects over a 30-year period. That measure will go to voters next year.

In 2000, voters approved a half-cent sales tax measure to fund BART, Caltrain and highway improvements and a variety of North County transit projects. That sales tax takes affect in 2006 and replaces the 10-year Measure B tax that expires next year.

To make the new tax measure palatable to voters throughout the county, the VTA also will promise more than $700 million for local road and expressway projects and expanded senior citizen services.

Santa Clara County Supervisor Don Gage, who is a VTA board member, and Morgan Hill Mayor Dennis Kennedy, who is an alternate on the board, have voiced support for the sales tax measure, in part to bring more Caltrain services to South County.