SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) — Construction is set to begin on the long-awaited BART to downtown San Jose extension. Work crews will start doing some preliminary work on East Santa Clara Street, causing some lanes and sidewalks to be blocked.

Crews will be drilling into the ground to take soil samples where the new BART tunnel and underground station will be located.

“I don’t want the sidewalks and crosswalks to be blocked off, ” said downtown San Jose resident Susan Soheili. Soheili uses a walker to get around, but as a mass transit user, she also welcomes BART to her neighborhood.

“I would use BART to go places I’ve never been before. Such as the East Bay and San Francisco.”

The actual construction zone for the downtown BART station will be a compact area, right in the heart of downtown San Jose. The area ranges roughly from Market Street to 4th street. Most of the construction will be underground, but there will be large staging areas above ground on either end.

The Valley Transportation Authority, which is overseeing the BART project, says disruptions will be minimal. But Dimitri Louvi, who has owned The Dive Bar for a dozen years, is waiting to see.

“We don’t know what we have to face yet as businesses,” he said.

Nazish Khan, the owner of the Hot Grill, a restaurant that serves kabobs and burgers on Santa Clara Street, says she’s afraid the construction will be inconvenient for her customers.

“Less parking on the street. That’s my main, main, main concern,” said Khan. But she thinks BART will be good for business in the long run.

“The BART system would be good for any business, any city. It brings in people from long distance,” she said.

The first preliminary phase will last about seven weeks. Heavy construction is due to start in 2020, with project completion slated for sometime in 2026.

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