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Milpitas VTA rep Dixon on BART death throes

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  • 1/31 Milpitas Post
    Published Saturday, January 31, 2004, in the Milpitas Post Long-held visions of BART face setback State, federal funding in jeopardy By Jay Peeples With
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 1, 2004
      Published Saturday, January 31, 2004, in the Milpitas Post

      Long-held visions of BART face setback
      State, federal funding in jeopardy

      By Jay Peeples

      With funding from the state and federal governments in question,
      Valley Transportation Authority officials are waiting to see how long
      the Bay Area Rapid Transit extension to Santa Clara County will be
      delayed.

      According to Milpitas Vice Mayor Trish Dixon, who was recently seated
      as a regular member on the transportation authority's board of
      directors, the $4-billion project is "up in the air."

      "It all comes down to funding," Dixon said.

      With the state's finances in shambles and the federal government
      staring at the largest budget deficit in the nation's history, the
      anticipated funding sources for the much-anticipated project are
      uncertain. Dixon said the BART project is competing against 200
      projects nationally for funding from the federal government. Further,
      she said a $15-billion state bond initiative on the March ballot will
      dictate whether the project will receive necessary state funding.

      "It is so critical in which way we turn," Dixon said.

      Dixon said the failure of the bond will mean local, county and state
      governments will have to cut their budgets dramatically. Valley
      Transportation Authority is facing a $100-million deficit until a new
      revenue stream is developed, Dixon said.

      The issue of state and federal funding is crucial to the life of the
      project, Dixon said, since an appropriation by either will likely mean
      the other will fund the project as well.

      "We really need both of them to attract other money," Dixon said.

      While the federal government's $834-million contribution and the
      state's $600 million appear to be in jeopardy, VTA will move forward
      with plans and design for the BART to San Jose project. Dixon said
      VTA is mulling a contract worth $171 million to perform preliminary
      design work on the extension. Further, she said VTA will decide
      whether to spend $1.6 million over two years, plus $400,000 in tenant
      improvements, to lease a 40,000-square-foot building next door to
      VTA's office on North First Street in San Jose.

      Dixon said she believes Santa Clara County residents still want BART
      to be extended to the region, but it won't happen tomorrow, she said.

      "Are they willing to wait another 20 years?" Dixon said.

      With money thin, Dixon said there are myriad other projects are set to
      begin that are important to the county's transportation system.
      Construction is ongoing at the Coleman Avenue interchange with
      Interstate 880 the main access to the Norman Y. Mineta San Jose
      International Airport.

      In order to make ends meet, Dixon said the board will consider rate
      hikes later this year. The rate increases are expected to go
      hand-in-hand with modifications to service throughout the county,
      including changing scheduling, the number of buses on the road, and
      the amount of time between light-rail train arrivals.

      "Our biggest task this year ... you're going to see an emphasis from
      VTA to finely hone their services," Dixon said.

      Despite the VTA's regional hurdles, Dixon said her goal this year on
      the board is to continue to protect and promote Milpitas. Projects
      she mentioned include installing soundwalls along Interstate 680 near
      the Sunnyhills neighborhood and the widening of Montague Expressway.

      Further, Dixon said she will review plans for the Milpitas Bay Area
      Rapid Transit station at GreatMall, noting that the optional second
      station in the city is probably out now.

      "Maybe we should focus on getting BART to Warm Springs (in Fremont),"
      Dixon said.
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