The consortium's bid was around $US 77m below estimates with much of the funding for the project coming from a 30-year, 0.5% sales tax increase passed by Santa Clara voters in 2000, which was increased to 0.8% following another successful vote in 2008. However, construction, which is due to start in the spring, is dependent on VTA securing a $US 900m grant for the entire $US 2.3bn project from the Federal New Starts programme.
An announcement on allocation of the funds is set for February, but local officials, including Mr Carl Guardino, CEO of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, an advocate of the extension, are confident that the cash will be secured. "I would be stunned to the point of needing smelling salts if that doesn't happen, and happen soon," Guardino told the San Francisco Chronicle.
The first phase of construction encompasses design and construction of the line, track, systems and stations on the former Union Pacific right-of-way through Milpitas to Berryessa in northern San Jose. The consortium says it is capable of accelerating construction to deliver the project before VTA's scheduled opening date in 2018.
The second phase, which is not yet funded, envisions the addition of 9.6km of track, including an 8km tunnel under San Jose, to a terminus in Santa Clara near the Caltrain station. VTA says construction on this phase will begin once funding is secured.