Congress pulled a $141 million grant for a Bay Area Rapid Transit extension into Silicon Valley from their $1.9 trillion COVID-19 stimulus bill Tuesday.
The grant would have eased the burden that the project places on local funds—revenues that have tumbled in the face of COVID-19-related closures. But local officials noted they didn’t expect losing the money to impact the plan to bring BART through downtown San Jose and into Santa Clara.
“While disappointing, I want to thank our Congressional delegation for their championing of the BART Phase 2 project, which will finally connect the downtown of America’s 10th largest city, San José, to our region’s other two major cities, Oakland and San Francisco, with a ‘ring of rail’ around the Bay Area,” San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo said in a statement Wednesday.
Congressional Republicans derisively said the grant would support “Pelosi’s subway,” even though the BART extension would not make it into her district, while other Republicans called it unnecessary spending during the nation’s health crisis.
The $6.9 billion heavy rail extension is set to be completed by 2030, with a quarter of the funding coming from the federal government, including a $1.7 billion grant from the Department of Transportation’s Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Program. The $1.7 billion grant is separate from the proposed $141 million grant.
The project will be built by the Valley Transportation Authority and managed by BART on completion.
The project has also received two separate federal grants: $125 million approved in 2019 and $100 million approved earlier this year.
VTA said the nixing of the $140 million grant won’t significantly change the planned spending for the project, as much of the COVID-related financials had been determined before the transit authority learned about the grant money in the stimulus bill.
“It would have alleviated some of the stress on some of the local funds,” said Bernice Alaniz, a spokesperson for the VTA. She too said it was disappointing that the grant had been pulled.
“This isn’t a reflection at all of the merits of the project,” Alaniz added.