Op-Ed: Full Federal Funding Essential to Future of Bay Area Transit

Op-Ed: Full Federal Funding Essential to Future of Bay Area Transit
Op-Ed: Full Federal Funding Essential to Future of Bay Area Transit

Silicon Valley is ready to “build back better” with a transportation infrastructure project that will create 75,000 jobs, provide housing for 76,000 people and reduce carbon emissions by 50 tons a year. We have secured more than half of the financing for the project. All we need to make this shovel-ready project a reality is for the federal government to deliver on President Joe Biden’s promise and match VTA funding.

When Biden announced the “Build Back Better” program in October 2021, he said, “We need to build America from the bottom up and the middle out, not from the top down with the trickle-down economics that has always failed us.”

The BART Silicon Valley Phase II project does just that. The majority of jobs created will be in construction and trade, offering well-paying, unionized jobs that support middle-class life for people without a college degree, something our nation, and the San Francisco Bay Area in particular, has had trouble generating for decades. Workers on this project will collectively earn more than $3.5 million.

We have secured 51% of the financing for the remaining and most difficult part of the project. Silicon Valley taxpayers pledged to invest $6 million of their own money in the future of Silicon Valley. The only thing left is the federal contribution to guarantee the completion of the project.

It’s surprising that Silicon Valley, which connected the entire world online, has been disconnected from the Bay Area’s main intercity transportation system for so long. BART, the essential connection to the East Bay and San Francisco for workers and visitors alike, has remained tantalizingly close for decades, but always out of reach.

Some opponents would insist that the project does not deserve full funding. We need leaders with a visionary approach who consider the long-term well-being and success of all who live and work here. The time to act is now.

This project provides enormous benefits to the entire Bay Area, not just Santa Clara County and Silicon Valley. When complete, residents from Millbrae to Antioch and Richmond to Dublin will have direct access to the most dynamic companies on the planet and Silicon Valley’s one million jobs.

For critics who complain about the project’s higher cost, additional delays will only make it more expensive. Each alternative proposal would only add traffic to highways and roads without achieving the full benefits of BART’s rapid intercity connection.

The entire federal party is essential. With this, we will finally be able to complete the South Bay’s most important transit connection, connecting major Bay Area cities into one system. Without it, the BART project to Silicon Valley is at risk and the future of San Jose and Silicon Valley will be filled with freeway congestion, increasing greenhouse gas emissions, and a lower quality of life for all residents.

Jean Cohen is executive director of the South Bay Labor Council. David Bini is executive director of the Santa Clara/San Benito Building Trades Council.

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