BART to San Jose Tax Still Undecided

The fate of a measure that would create a one-eighth-cent sales tax to fund an extension of Bay Area Rapid Transit to San Jose was still undetermined early Wednesday morning.

Votes were still being tallied in Santa Clara County at 4:15 a.m.  With 78 percent of precincts reporting, Measure B had received 66.2 support  from voters, just a hair short of the 66.6 percent, or two-thirds, it needs  to pass.

Money raised by the measure would be used to operate, maintain and improve a 16-mile extension of BART from Fremont through the South Bay. The tax would be in effect for 30 years.

San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed said the cost per resident comes out to around $13 a year. He believes building the system will help the Silicon Valley remain an innovation center as well as create many badly needed jobs.

The California Transportation Commission voted Sept. 25 to approve $239 million in state transportation funds for the BART extension.

The Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority has already  purchased the right-of-way for the tracks, which would run through Milpitas, San Jose and Santa Clara.

With the commission funding, the last step left before beginning the project was to gain approval from residents on the sales tax, according to Reed.

VTA executive director Michael Burns said the rails would be state-of-the-art, with grade separation and full automation. The project  received federal environmental approval in 2007.

Voters approved the general plan for the BART extension in 2000.

Opponents to the measure claim VTA has been promising this and other transit projects for years without fulfillment, and has starved other  transit systems to help pave the way for the BART extension. The Santa Clara  County Civil Grand Jury called it an "over promising of projects to voters,"  according to

Other opponents of the measure claimed that the VTA gave the "Yes  on B" campaign help promoting the measure that directly affects their agency.  However, the transit organization said the only help they provided was informational.

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