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Lawsuit Could Stall BART San Jose Extension, Other Transit Projects

Bay Area Rapid Transit

A lawsuit working its way through the Santa Clara County court system is delaying nearly $6B in transportation funding voters approved in November with the passage of Measure B. The half-cent sales tax increase would go toward repairing potholes, extending BART into San Jose and improving Caltrain infrastructure, the Silicon Valley Business Journal reports. The sales tax increase went into effect in April and the VTA started to spend the funds during the summer, but spending is now stalled.

The lawsuit, Cheriel Jensen v. Santa Clara Transportation Authority et al, alleges the Valley Transportation Authority would use the funds to add toll lanes on the 101 and 85 freeways. The lawsuit was dismissed in July, but Jensen, a retired county planner, filed an appeal, which prevents the VTA from spending funds toward transportation repairs and infrastructure. The funds will be kept in an escrow account until the legality of the tax is resolved in a decision that cannot be appealed.

The legal battle could last years, which will only add to the cost of the transit repair projects, according to VTA board Chair Jeannie Bruins.

Outside of the $1.5B in BART’s extension and over $1B for Caltrain improvements, funding under Measure B includes $1.2B in repairs for local streets and roads, $750M for highway interchanges, $500M for transit operations, $350M for State Route 85 and $250M for a bike/pedestrian program, according to the VTA.