The Earthquakes are excited to provide an update on the progress of the VTA pedestrian undercrosssing project, which broke ground on November 2, 2016. The undercrossing will provide a more direct and faster route for fans riding Caltrain to the Santa Clara station on matchdays to make their way from the train to their seats. We sat down with Karen Gauss, Public Communications Specialist for Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority to get an update & projected timeline for the completion of the undercrossing.
SJEarthquakes.com: When did this project begin for you?
Karen Gauss: The City of Santa Clara submitted the pedestrian undercrossing project concept to VTA in 2000. VTA included it in our Valley Transportation Plan 2020, a long range plan that was adopted in December 2000 and provides guidance for the following 25 years. VTA is currently working with VTP 2040. VTA combined funding from multiple sources in order to get the undercrossing project designed, funded, and shovel-ready. The $13.8M project cost will draw from previous Measures A and B, the City of San Jose, State and Federal Sources, Safe Routes to Transit, the Transportation Fund for Clean Air, and Hunter Properties.
SJEQ: Quakes fans are extremely excited about the groundbreaking and the overall project: What has it meant to VTA to be able to move forward on this project so close to the newest sports venue in the Bay Area?
KG: VTA knows that riding transit is the best way to move high volumes of people in a short period of time, therefore transit is ideal for sporting events. It is not feasible to move the same number of people in individual cars. Challenges regarding parking and traffic flow on Coleman Avenue on game day are concerns for many Quakes fans. They can avoid such issues by taking bus lines 522 or 22, the 10 or 231 shuttles on El Camino Real, or hopping on Caltrain and using the pedestrian undercrossing to walk to the stadium. Sustainable transportation is what VTA does well, and what Caltrain does well.
SJEQ: Talk a bit about how much easier this is for traveling fans. The existing drop-off area is very close to SCU, but it has obviously been more difficult to get to Avaya Stadium. Travel time from station to stadium must be considerably cut down, correct?
KG: VTA number 10 shuttle currently picks up Earthquakes fans who arrive by Caltrain at the west side of the Santa Clara Caltrain station. The bus then travels north via De La Cruz Blvd, and then back down to Avaya Stadium via Coleman Avenue. That transit connection currently takes 10 minutes in light traffic. When the new pedestrian undercrossing opens, passengers can walk to the east side of the station, and walk via Coleman Avenue to Avaya stadium, which will take about 9 minutes on foot, or 5 minutes by bike. There is currently no easy way to ride a bicycle from the West side of Santa Clara Station, to Avaya Stadium.
SJEQ: Is it your hope that fans will choose VTA the same way they choose BART in other parts of the Bay Area to get to sports venues?
KG: Yes. The pedestrian undercrossing provides a cross-barrier connection for bicyclists and pedestrians only. It promotes trips that happen other than by car. It connects VTA buses on the west side of Santa Clara station, with everything happening along Coleman Avenue.
SJEQ: Finally, what does the timeline look like for this project over the next year?
KG: Round-the-clock cut and cover excavation took place over the Thanksgiving weekend. Pre-cast concrete box culvert units will be placed in the ground to form the walls, floor and ceiling of the undercrossing. The ramp and finished undercrossing will be open to the public summer of 2017. We will update the project website when the opening date becomes more certain. We would like to invite Earthquakes fans to the ribbon cutting. Please stay tuned!