WASHINGTON (CBS SF) — With San Francisco Bay Area politicians including San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo looking on, President Joe Biden signed the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure package into law Monday afternoon.
California will get the largest share of the spending — about $45.5 billion — bringing much needed funding for local projects including improvements to roads, bridges, rail lines, ports, the electrical power grid and the water delivery infrastructures.READ MORE: Kaiser Oakland Medical Center Staffers Tied to COVID Omicron Outbreak
The Bay Area could see up to $3.6 billion dollars in transit funding alone.
For Liccardo, the funds will help improve public transportation in San Jose, including transforming the Diridon transit station into the “Grand Central Station of the West” and finally easing train noise pollution in city’s Japantown neighborhood.
Liccardo said South Bay transit agencies and San Jose have big plans, like getting CalTrain electrified by 2024 and making the promise of BART in San Jose more than just a single station.
“Most excited about transit and getting projects like BART to downtown. We’ve got the first station open in San Jose. We’ve got to get the remaining four open and that means getting a shovel in the ground in 2022. But we’ve got a lot of other important projects, whether it’s broadband or it’s water,” Liccardo told KPIX via Zoom from D.C.
BART officials also praised the bill.
“The infrastructure bill is a once-in-a-generation investment in things that matter to our riders: reliability, frequency and accessibility,” said BART General Manager Bob Powers. “It also benefits Bay Area residents who don’t necessarily ride BART by creating the opportunity for jobs with good pay.”
“We’ve never seen this much money invested into transit systems,” added BART spokeswoman Alicia Trost.
At the top of the wish list for BART is a new communications system for trains.
“Our new communications based train control system and everything it will take to run trains closer together. That is such a meaningful upgrade for our riders. That we’re running trains even closer together so there isn’t as much of a wait,” Trost told KPIX.
That would increase traffic in the Transbay Tube from 24 trains and hour to 30, which will allow thousands of riders to get to destinations faster.
“It would make it so the trains were less crowded, which basically effects morale, because when people get off the train they’re angry because they were squished like this on the train all the way,” said transit rider Bryan Butler.READ MORE: Scott Peterson Resentenced To Life Without Parole; Laci's Mom: 'You Will Always Be Their Murderer'
Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren said the historic bill contains $3 billion in available “competitive grants for railroad crossing elimination.”
“We know that that’s a problem here in San Jose and we know that we need to have some quiet zones in Japantown and some other areas,” Lofgren said at a press event last week. “I’m going to be working with the mayor and with the county supervisors to make sure that we get our applications in and, hopefully, we get funding so that people can sleep at night.”
Since 2019, neighbors have been battling with Union Pacific Railroad over increased use of the rail line. The trains run through Japantown at 7th and Jackson Streets with apartments, duplexes and condos in close proximity.
The bill will also increase funding for the Capital Investment Grants program supporting projects like Caltrain’s electrification project, which needs another $333 million to complete.
“Electrification will transform Caltrain, replacing 75% of the aging diesel fleet with high-performance state of the art electric trains, but this funding will allow us to take the next step and finish the project by 2024,” said Caltrain’s Acting Executive Director Michelle Bouchard.
It also earmarks roughly $91 billion for spending on transportation nationwide that would also provide $2.5 billion for zero-emission school buses.
“This is a great day for public transportation,” said SamTrans General Manager/CEO Carter Mau. “Bus agencies throughout California have committed to adopting fully zero emission fleets by 2040, and this bill offers a means of funding that ambitious goal.”
Federal dollars would also help clean up the state’s roughly 35,000 abandoned wells and 39,000 abandoned mines and other pollutants which would create thousands of jobs.
About $2.8 billion would be allocated to combat wildfires — $200 million of which would be used for post-fire restoration, like Santa Clara County’s east foothills or Big Basin Redwoods State Park, which was badly damaged by a wildfire in 2020.
The bill, first passed by the Senate in a 69 to 30 vote in August, was ultimately passed by the House, including 13 Republican lawmakers, on November 5.
In order to achieve a bipartisan deal, the president had to cut back his initial ambition to spend $2.3 trillion on infrastructure by more than half.
The bill includes about $550 billion in new spending over 10 years, since some of the expenditures in the package were already planned. Yet the administration still views the bill as a national project with a broad range of investments and the potential ways to improve people’s lives with clean drinking water and high-speed internet.MORE NEWS: UPDATE: Parents Who Sent Child With COVID to Corte Madera School Could Face Criminal Charges
Andria Borba contributed to this story.