The Santa Clara Transit Center sign by the sidewalk, with a fenced-in open plot of land
Early construction on phase two of VTA's BART Silicon Valley expansion began in late April at the Newhall Maintenance Facility, which stretches between Santa Clara and San Jose. Photo by B. Sakura Cannestra.

Silicon Valley is ready to “Build Back Better” with a transportation infrastructure project that will generate 75,000 jobs, provide housing for 76,000 people and reduce carbon emissions by 50 tons a year. We have secured more than half the funding for the project. All we need to make this shovel-ready project happen is for the federal government to fulfill President Joe Biden’s promise and match VTA’s funding.

When Biden announced the “Build Back Better” program in October 2021, he said, “We need to build America from the bottom up and the middle out, not from top down with the trickle-down economics that’s always failed us.”

The BART Silicon Valley Phase II project does just that. Most jobs generated will be in construction and trades, offering well-paying, union jobs that support middle-class living for people without a college degree, which our nation, and the San Francisco Bay Area in particular, has had trouble generating for decades. Workers on this project will collectively earn more than $3.5 billion.

We have 51% of the funding secured for the remaining and most difficult part of the project. Taxpayers in Silicon Valley committed to investing $6 billion of their own money into the future of Silicon Valley. All that remains is the federal match to ensure the project’s completion.

It’s astonishing that Silicon Valley, which connected the entire world online, has been disconnected from the Bay Area’s major inter-urban transit system for so long. BART — the essential connection to the East Bay and San Francisco for workers and visitors alike — has remained tantalizingly close for decades, yet always out of reach.

Some opponents would insist the project doesn’t deserve full funding. We need leaders with a visionary approach who consider the well-being and long-term success of everyone who lives and works here. The time to act is now.

This project provides tremendous benefits to the entire Bay Area, not just Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley. When completed, residents from Millbrae to Antioch and Richmond to Dublin will have direct access to the most dynamic companies on the planet and Silicon Valley’s 1 million jobs.

For critics who complain about the project’s increased cost, additional delays will only make it even more expensive. Every alternative proposal would only add traffic to freeways and roads without achieving all the benefits of BART’s rapid, inter-urban connection.

The full federal match is essential. With it, we can finally have the South Bay’s most important transit connection completed, connecting the major cities of the Bay Area into a single system. Without it, the BART to Silicon Valley project is at risk and the future of San Jose and Silicon Valley will be filled with freeway congestion, growing greenhouse gas emissions and decreased quality of life for all residents.

David Bini is executive director of the Santa Clara/San Benito Building Trades Council.

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