A thriving, innovative Warm Springs district linking Fremont into the heart of Silicon Valley is one step closer to becoming a reality.
On Friday morning, BART, the City of Fremont, regional transportation officials and local residents celebrated the completion of an underground tunnel for BART’s Warm Springs Extension at a ceremony at Central Park.
Those in attendance got to explore a small portion of the 1.25-mile subway, which has been under construction for three years.
The tunnel is part of the 5.4-mile extension from the current Fremont BART station to the new Warm Springs station expected to open in 2015.
The new station is vital for Fremont’s future, officials said.
“This is probably our most important project in our city as it relates to our economic future,” said Kelly Kline, Fremont’s economic development manager.
An $890 million project, the Warm Springs extension is funded through various regional and state sources, including Alameda County’s Measure B and the State Traffic Congestion Relief Program.
Pending funding, an Irvington Station could also be located midway through the extension, though no date or official plans have been set.
The Warm Springs station “is probably the only station south of Oakland to be a major workplace hub,” she added.
City officials envision the district — which spans 850 acres — as a large hub for innovative business and expects to add 30,000 jobs by 2040. Already known for its emerging technologies and manufacturing plants, the area is home to companies such as Tesla, Western Digital and, soon, Seagate.
“We could put Moffett Field and Mission Bay on that site and still have room leftover,” Fremont Mayor Gus Morrison said.
The new station will also provide an “unprecedented” link to the wider Silicon Valley, Kline said.
BART plans to extend its service into Santa Clara county, with stations in Milpitas and north San Jose to be built by 2018.
“Fremont’s always been on the fringe of Silicon Valley. With this project, we have the opportunity to be an integral part of Silicon Valley in a way we haven’t been able to do before,” she said.
The link to San Jose will be beneficial to all East Bay cities, not just Fremont, said Union City mayor and Alameda County transportation commissioner Mark Green.
“The fate of BART is to get into Santa Clara County,” Green said. “It’s not just for Fremont, but all of the stations on the line.”
The link between counties is a score for the greater Bay Area, leaders said.
“It means less traffic congestion on freeways and a major attraction to companies who want to be located in Santa Clara and Alameda counties,” said Ken Yeager, chair of the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority. “It certainly means a lot of construction jobs and improved air quality as we get cars off the road.”