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San Jose Sharks File Suit To Stop BART Extension Construction

SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) – Only a week after transportation officials approved plans for the BART extension into downtown San Jose, the project is already facing a hurdle after the San Jose Sharks filed a suit that could halt construction.

The lawsuit says the Sharks will be negatively impacted by the construction and loss of parking near the SAP Center. It also argues that transportation officials haphazardly forced through the plan for the underground BART station.

Sharks Sports & Entertainment, Inc. filed suit against the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and BART, saying "because VTA is so biased in favor of its own transportation systems, it refused to consider studies or conduct studies that might challenge the agencies' biases."

Just last week, the $4.7 billion dollar proposal for BART's extension to San Jose was approved. The plan calls for the construction of a state-of-the-art single tunnel under the heart of downtown.

Riders would have direct access to the SAP Center, which hosts Sharks games, events and concerts. While the Sharks say they're completely supportive of BART coming to San Jose, Co-President John Tortora outlined some of the companys issues with the project in statement.

"We don't think the current plan addresses several important issues for SAP Center, including a promise to ensure adequate parking in the Diridon area and a safe and accessible environment for our customers during construction," the statement said. "We have been pushing VTA for more than two years to work with us on these issues without success. We did not take this decision lightly."

San Jose City Councilman Raul Peralez, who is also a VTA board member, was not pleased with the news.

"Certainly was disappointed with this litigation," said Peralez. "We were still on a high, if you will, passing the single bore through VTA and through BART. So this is a little bit of a damper on that exciting news."

Scott Knies with the Downtown Business Association said he supports the Sharks' position, but doesn't think it jeopardizes the project.

"The Sharks, I'm sure, are looking for assurances on where their customers are going to park.  It's a question that had to be answered sooner or later. Now they're probably going to answer it sooner," said Knies. "This is...this is a negotiation."

Peralez is hoping the issues can be settled without causing any delays to the long-awaited BART project.

"This is just business, in regards to development, with BART and that's going to be for years to come.  There is a lot going on there," said Peralez.

The lawsuit was announced as transportation officials are asking for federal grants for the project. The feds will consider local opposition when deciding whether or not to award the grants.

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