Santa Clara VTA requesting second phase of BART extension become an FTA New Starts project

Nov. 4, 2022
The switch into the New Starts program will allow the authority to seek a higher federal contribution.

Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (SCVTA) will pursue a greater federal share for the BART Silicon Valley Phase II Extension Project (Phase II Project) and has submitted a request to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to transition the project from the FTA Expedited Project Delivery Pilot Funding Program to its New Starts Funding Program, which are both under the Capital Investment Grants umbrella.

Santa Clara VTA explains moving the project to the New Starts program will allow the authority to make a preliminary federal funding request that is nearly double what it would be under the Expedited Project Delivery Pilot program. New Starts program projects can request up to 49 percent federal share, where Expedited Project Deliver Pilot program projects can request up to 25 percent.

The November 2021 estimated capital cost of the project under the Expedited Project Pilot program was $9.1 billion, which would allow the authority to request up to $2.28 billion in federal funds. Santa Clara VTA says the most recent funding plan includes an increase of $180 million to a projected $9.318 billion. If the transition to the New Starts program is approved, the authority could preliminarily seek up to $4.56 billion for the project. Santa Clara VTA explains the updated number is a risk assessment projection for the funding plan, not a project cost estimate, and its increase can be attributed to financing costs resulting from bond interest rates materially increasing during the past year and the need for earlier debt issuances.

Under Santa Clara VTA’s current funding plan for the project, there is not an intention to pursue additional local funding, which the authority says is a recognition of “the substantial commitment already made by county residents throughout the years.” The funding plan does rely on an additional $750 million of state budget surplus funding, which the authority says is essential in completing the funding plan and supporting its federal funding application.

Santa Clara VTA will prepare an updated project schedule and cost estimate over the next few months that will reflect current market conditions, risks and advanced design. The authority is also seeking to have an independent cost estimate and schedule prepared.

Santa Clara VTA has requested continued pre-award authority, via a Letter of no Prejudice (LONP) from the FTA, which if granted, will enable VTA to continue advancing design, begin early construction works and purchase long lead items, including the Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM). The LONP will also allow VTA to continue incurring specific project costs with the ability of reimbursement once a Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) is executed. Other critical project activities will continue as planned, including a proposed Board authorization anticipated in December for purchase of the TBM and early work construction activities.

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