SANTA CLARA (KPIX 5) – BART is running trains into Santa Clara County, for the first time ever.
It's a major step in the long awaited extension of BART to the South Bay.
The first trains are now making test runs.
Project manager John Engstrom said, "It's a huge milestone."
For generations of people living in the South Bay who have felt like they figuratively and literally missed the train, the significance of this milestone -- the first BART trains rolling down the ten miles of track extending the transit system into Santa Clara County -- simply cannot be overstated.
Francie Soito owns a comic book store near the new Milpitas station and remembers hearing about the possibility of trains coming to Milpitas. Now that the project is nearly completion, she's excited and believes being on the BART system will help reach new customers.
"It's felt like we've been on an island down here, disconnected from the city," Soito said. "It takes at least an hour drive to get up there. Now, it's as simple as walking a mile away, hopping on a train, reading a book and then you're in San Francisco."
As the Valley Transportation Authority puts the finishing touches on the brand new Milpitas and Berryessa BART stations, they've begun what's known as "dynamic testing" running three-car trains on the tracks to insure the new system is working properly.
Engstrom said, "Everything that we do is to test out every potential failure point - and there's thousands of them."
Forty-five years after BART first launched, Santa Clara County is less than a year away from finally coming onboard.
Soito said, "As a small business, every little bit helps us. And knowing that the Milpitas Bart station is going to be less than a mile from our shop is great because we're going to be able to get customers from all over the Bay Area."
Engstrom said, "Everyone's really excited to start to see that the final product is actually within reach right now."
The South Bay BART extension is on budget and ahead of schedule. It is on track to begin transporting passengers next summer.
"I never really thought it was going to happen," Soito said.
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