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 is slated to begin April 22 at the Newhall Maintenance Facility, which stretches between Santa Clara and San Jose. Photo by B. Sakura Cannestra.

BART’s expansion through Silicon Valley is taking shape as pre-construction work gets underway in Santa Clara.

VTA workers have started on-site preparations for phase two of BART’s expansion at the Newhall Maintenance Facility. That includes setting up temporary field offices, bringing in equipment and preparations to begin drilling the tunnel. The 6-mile extension, most of which will be underground, will cost taxpayers $12.75 billion and is slated to finish in 2036.

VTA officials presented updates on the expansion at the Santa Clara City Council meeting on Tuesday. VTA Chief Megaprojects Officer Tom Maguire said the agency hopes to start train service by Spring 2037 and reassured councilmembers that streets will not be torn up to dig the tunnel. He said VTA bought one of the world’s largest tunnel boring machines, which will dig out the tunnel underground without breaking the surface.

Officials also said Santa Clara and San Jose residents should expect increased construction truck activity as the site is prepped. There will be a maximum of 55 trucks per day to help remove dirt from the tunnel during the initial grading, according to Maguire. A VTA spokesperson later clarified to San José Spotlight that there will be a maximum of 85 trucks per day during early construction activities over the next two years.

The maintenance yard is located behind the Santa Clara Transit Center and crosses the border with San Jose, where three other BART stations will be built.

“By completing this important rail transit connection, the city looks forward to more connected and frequent transit opportunities for our residents and businesses,” Santa Clara spokesperson Janine De la Vega told San José Spotlight.

The extension has gone through multiple revisions. In San Jose, property owners on Santa Clara Street said VTA has pushed them to sell their land and threatened to take it through eminent domain. Businesses will close to make way for the downtown San Jose extension and station.

Santa Clara Councilmember Suds Jain said before the meeting that he expects few city businesses to be affected by the early construction because there aren’t many near the site. He said he’d like to learn more about how the preparation will affect the surrounding community, particularly the routes for construction trucks, which he suspects could be a constant for the next few years.

“I’m not exactly sure if the residents are that aware of what is actually going on,” Jain told San José Spotlight.

Jain asked about the truck route during the meeting, and Maguire said trucks will mostly be coming through Brokaw Road. Land grading hours will go from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. and truck hauling will be from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m., both on weekdays with occasional Saturday work, Maguire said.

Entrance points for construction deliveries will be along Brokaw Road, Coleman Avenue, Newhall Street and Newhall Drive, De la Vega said. While all construction will be within the maintenance yard, she added that VTA sent mailers to surrounding buildings. Anyone who wants to learn more can visit the VTA website and sign up for email notices.

Jain said VTA is taking multiple precautions to lessen the impact for residents and neighboring businesses, such as mats that help lift dust off of truck wheels and a sound-absorbing barrier to decrease noise. VTA also launched a business resource program in March, dedicating $15 million over a five-year period toward supporting small businesses through the duration of this extension’s development.

The city identified about 240 acres around the future station as ripe for development in its 2010 General Plan, and De la Vega said employees have started planning for ways to further increase development. Jain said he’s looking forward to seeing the progress.

Santa Clara has been clearing way for housing near its transit centers for the past few years, along with other Silicon Valley cities.

Santa Clara’s Gateway Crossing development, approved by the city council in 2019, is under construction and will bring 1,595 homes to the area, along with 45,000 square feet of retail space, a 225-room hotel and other facilities. Hundreds more homes are being built near the Great America Amtrak station in Santa Clara’s Tasman East neighborhood. VTA has a slate of housing projects near transit centers in various cities, with the potential to add more than 7,000 new homes, about 2,500 of which will be affordable, by 2040.

“We know that every time there is a metro station, there’s a flurry of development. There’s a lot of excitement,” Jain told San José Spotlight. “I’m really eager to see what kind of development we can see on the 240 acres. I want to put thousands of housing units there.”

Contact B. Sakura Cannestra at [email protected] or @SakuCannestra on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story lacked information VTA clarified after publication regarding the maximum number of trucks on the road during pre-construction.

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