TRANSDEF sued Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority for illegally allocating local sales tax funds for the Warm Springs project because the local sales tax funding for Warm Springs requires a rail connection to Santa Clara County to be "fully funded." In January, VTA board approved a "full funding" plan for an extension to the Flea Market. However that "full funding" plan assumes $750 million from the federal government, which VTA has yet to apply for, and which the funding is not certain.
VTA staff submitted documents in an attempt to justify the project's "fully funded" status. However that document is not a VTA's board approved policy.
According to the document, the extension to Milpitas costs $1.7 billion. After that project along with a few others, VTA would be left with $720 million (in 2007 dollars) in the 2000 Measure A program.
Also according to the recently released EIS for the project, the total cost from Fremont to Berryessa costs $2.49 billion, which translate to a difference of $738 million for portion between Milpitas and Berryessa. In other words, VTA could afford to build to Berryessa if it wants to without federal funds, and that federal funds would actually be meant to go one more stop beyond Milpitas.
Although VTA could proceed without federal funds, VTA would want those funds anyway so they can start collecting the 1/8 cent Measure B sales tax. Last year's Measure B required matching funds from the federal government to start. Even with the federal funds, VTA cannot afford to build the line through downtown, which would cost an additional $4 billion.
The $1.7 billion project, although affordable, is still way overpriced. The line basically costs more than $300 million per mile, which is five times more expensive than Vasona light rail, the last VTA-built project completed in 2005. Despite the much higher cost, the proposed project would be built largely at grade adjacent to an existing freight track like the Vasona line. In addition, the project is also more expensive per mile than the last BART extension to SFO, which is mostly underground.
Furthermore, the difference in cost for going 3 miles from Milpitas to Berryessa could help pay for light rail extension to Eastridge, Caltrain electrification, and possibly light rail along Santa Clara Street.
Transit advocates do not favor BART because of its unreasonably high cost, and this document clearly shows the trade off. Alternatives exist that would provide the same if not better level of service at a much lower cost, but these brand-obsessed delusionals just couldn't get it.