Key San Jose leaders call BART extension ‘municipal madness’

The five miles of tunneling for the BART extension from the Berryessa station through San Jose to Santa Clara will begin soon.

A boring machine will tunnel 80 feet, roughly eight stories, beneath our streets. It’s part of a quixotic decision by the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to continue pursuing the 1960s goal of ringing the Bay Area with rail transportation — an idea as old as the Edsel.

This is fiscal foolishness that, if completed, will likely leave us with an obsolete system in a brave new world. Having worked for decades to improve and support the best for our city of San Jose and its citizens, we are bound by a feeling to speak out.

The planned BART extension should be stopped now, and a committee of independent experts should review whether this project still serves San Jose or only those leading it.

The cost has increased from $5.6 billion to $12.8 billion, and the completion date has been delayed from 2026 to 2037. When it’s completed, few of the architects of the plan will be here to answer for mistakes.

This is the most important yet most financially and reputationally irresponsible project in San Jose’s history. Our emphasis should instead be on weaving the Silicon Valley together and serving our citizens better.

A new examination might result in a fleet of clean-energy buses or other transportation ideas to serve key destinations such as San Jose Mineta International Airport, Santana Row and Westfield Mall, as well as key residential spots such as East San Jose, Willow Glen and Almaden Valley.

A bus-system expansion could be completed in a fraction of the time — years, not decades — and we have the money to do it now.