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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

In preparation for the first train testing in early December, crews are completing OCS wire installation in Monrovia.

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November 26th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

The final traction power substation was installed in Azusa this week. In all, 10 have been installed along the project, each designed specifically for its position along the light rail system. With all of the substations in place, testing of the line will commence in early December; an important milestone for the project.

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November 21st, 2014
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Station Design & Art Review Committees from the Foothill Gold Line from Azusa to Montclair Toured Gold Line Stations for Design Inspiration

Posted by GoldLine


Pictured above, about 40 members of the Station Design and Art Review (SDAR) committees from the Azusa to Montclair segment cities – Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair – toured Gold Line stations in South Pasadena, Pasadena and Arcadia to begin their process of developing the design and art plans for their respective future stations. SDAR committee members are appointed by each city and consist of a station artist, local community members, elected officials, and city staff.


The tour, hosted by the Construction Authority, took the committee members to the Del Mar and Fillmore stations in Pasadena; South Pasadena station; and the future Arcadia station. The committee members were shown station elements, artwork and other important features to take into consideration for their own cities’ station art plans. At the South Pasadena station, the tour group was hosted by South Pasadena Councilmember Michael Cacciotti, who explained the planning process and betterments that the city implemented around the station – which has contributed to the area’s revitalization since the Gold Line’s arrival.

With the lessons learned from the tour, each SDAR committee will now proceed to produce a station design and art plan that can go before their respective city councils for approval.

More pictures of the tour are below.

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November 19th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Work continues on the exterior of the main building at the Gold Line Operations Campus.

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November 14th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine


The Foothill Gold Line joined the City of Arcadia and more than one hundred community leaders to dedicate the newly-opened Arcadia Transit Plaza in Downtown Arcadia.

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November 7th, 2014
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Editorial: Will L.A.’s ’subway to the sea’ finally get there? – Los Angeles Times

Posted by GoldLine

The following Editorial appeared in the Los Angeles Times on November 6, 2014.

Editorial: Will L.A.’s ’subway to the sea’ finally get there? – Los Angeles Times

Subway construction

By The Times Editorial Board

November 6, 2014

When then-Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa promised 10 years ago to build the long-stalled “subway to the sea,” many Angelenos probably rolled their eyes and thought, “Yeah, right. We can’t even get a train all the way to the airport.” But on Friday, Metro will officially break ground on the first phase of the Purple Line extension, a four-mile segment from the existing Wilshire/Western station to Wilshire and La Cienega boulevards in Beverly Hills that should be completed by 2023. The subway will travel under one of L.A.’s most densely populated and highly trafficked corridors. When it reaches Westwood and the Veterans Administration Hospital in 2035, the line will be the backbone of the region’s rapidly expanding public transit system.

Los Angeles County now has five rail lines under construction, including one that will connect to LAX by 2022, and two — the Expo Line to Santa Monica and the Gold Line to Azusa — slated to open in 2016. It’s easy to forget that when Villaraigosa pitched the subway to the sea while campaigning for mayor, major transit projects were moving at a snail’s pace, if at all.

To resuscitate the Westside extension proposal, Villaraigosa and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority had to persuade Rep. Henry A. Waxman to change the law barring use of federal funds to tunnel under Wilshire, a measure Waxman had pushed through after a 1985 methane explosion in the Fairfax area. They also had to find a way around a 1998 county ballot initiative by Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky that prohibited the use of existing sales tax revenue to fund new subways. They did — L.A. County voters passed the Measure R half-cent sales tax in 2008, which dedicated about $4 billion for the Purple Line extension.

The full subway line is expected to cost $6.3 billion. A federal grant and low-interest loan will cover $2.1 billion of the $2.8-billion price tag for the first phase. Metro has asked the Obama administration to set aside an additional $1.4 billion for the second phase, from Beverly Hills to Century City, which is scheduled to be completed in 2025.

Looking ahead, L.A. leaders should continue to push for funding for the Purple Line, and should be willing to defend the project against lawsuits that may pop up along the way. And they should press for other transformational projects — a transit line over the Sepulveda Pass, connecting the San Fernando Valley with the Westside, and extending the Gold Line deeper into the San Gabriel Valley. Within the next 10 years, the transportation landscape in Los Angeles will look dramatically different, with lines crossing the region from Chatsworth to Long Beach and from Azusa to Santa Monica. This is what can happen when politicians actually deliver on their boldest promises.

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November 7th, 2014
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Gold Line, Expo Line extensions may sit idle waiting on rail cars to carry passengers – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on November 3, 2014.

Gold Line, Expo Line extensions may sit idle waiting on rail cars to carry passengers – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By Steve Scauzillo

November 3, 2014

The simultaneous completion of two light-rail lines next year is raising concerns that the projects may not receive enough cars to carry passengers and the shortage could delay line openings for up to a year and a half, interviews and public records show.

With completion of the Expo Line Phase 2 line from Culver City to Santa Monica expected by summer, and the Gold Line Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa on Sept. 23, the race is on to supply the necessary train cars to carry passengers at full capacity.

Adding to the anxiety of both construction managers is the fact that the contract awarded by Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) board to Kinkisharyo International, a Japanese company that’s assembling the light-rail vehicles in Palmdale, occurred in late August 2012, three years after the board reached a tentative agreement with AnsaldoBreda to build the cars but later failed to execute the contract.

One of the biggest fears comes from the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, a separate entity building an 11.5-mile extension from east Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border. Once complete, the Authority will turn the line over to Metro for operation. Today, the Gold Line carries more than 44,000 daily passengers from East Los Angeles to L.A.’s Union Station to the terminus at Sierra Madre Villa in east Pasadena.

Chief Executive Officer Habib Balian worries that the lack of train cars for the foothill extension will force Metro to reduce frequencies — the intervals between train arrivals at the extension’s six stations.

The extension is scheduled to receive 15 cars and run trains about 10 minutes apart. “But instead of them coming every 10 minutes, they could come every 30 minutes. That would be a big turnoff to the building up of ridership. It would take you a long time to regain their trust. That is our fear,” Balian said.

One manager close to both agencies said most train watchers call lengthy inaugural headways “the kiss of death” tantamount to a restaurant grand opening with an inadequate number of servers.

During the past few weeks, Metro officials have tried to reassure managers of the Gold Line Foothill and Expo Line extensions that enough train cars will be available. The only question is when.

The Expo Line, a 6.6-mile extension with seven new stations and an anticipated daily ridership of 64,000 by 2030, is nearly complete, said Expo officials. In July or August, it will be turned over to Metro for about four months of testing, followed by actual revenue-producing ridership, said Samantha Bricker, Expo Phase 2’s chief operating officer.

“We are assured they (Metro) will have vehicles in time for revenue operation,” Bricker said. Metro officials met with CEO Rick Thorpe two weeks ago to assure him the train cars would arrive on time, she said.

Still, the wiggle room in Metro’s testing and operations schedule in the unprecedented light-rail buildup occurring on opposite sides of the county left traces of concern in her voice.

“Everyone would hate to have a system built on time and not be able to operate it,” she said. “But it is not in our control and not in Foothill’s control. We are dependent on Metro to deliver these vehicles.”

While construction of Expo and Foothill extensions would be completed by July/August and late September, respectively, Metro said in a statement the two lines will be completed by summer 2016 — about a year later.

A Foothill official who asked not to be named said they had never heard that date mentioned.

Metro CEO Art Leahy said in a prepared statement dated Oct. 17: “All 78 vehicles in the base order are scheduled to be in service by January 2017.”

When asked to clarify, Metro Spokesman Paul Gonzales said the 78 vehicles from Kinkisharyo’s shop in Palmdale would be delivered to Metro by January 2017.

Since that represents a 16-month gap between the completion of Gold Line Foothill construction and receivership of the rail cars, and an 18-month gap between completion of the Expo Phase 2 and receiving the cars, managers are wondering if the two lines would not carry passengers during the gaps.

“When passengers will ride? I can’t tell you,” Gonzales said. “There is a lot that can happen between now and then.”

Bricker said after a normal testing period, the new Expo Line to Santa Monica should begin running in January 2016 or earlier. Balian said Metro would be done testing the foothill line in four to six months and therefore it would be ready to carry passengers in March 2016. Metro did not confirm these dates.

In a May 22, 2013 memo from Balian to the Foothill Authority’s board, Metro forecasted it would not fulfill the required number of rail cars to operate both the Foothill and Expo extensions once the lines were built and tested.

The memo said Metro was trying to secure 30-year-old rail cars from St. Louis “as a way to address the shortage of vehicles.”

Metro also told the Foothill board it would take 33 months from the issuance of the contract for the company to begin delivering cars. That would start the clock in May 2015. At four cars per month, the full 78-car order would not be received until January 2017.

But since Expo needs 42 cars and Foothill 15, the two are banking on getting the first 57 cars of the base order sooner, rather than later.

“We are trying to get this so we have the cars we need at the time we need them,” Gonzales said. “That is why Kinkisharyo is committed to having this done on time.”

Kinkisharyo, in a show of good faith, delivered a test rail car to Metro on Oct. 17.

Several train cars are scheduled to be delivered to the new operations yard in Monrovia by the end of December, when they will be tested on the Foothill line. However, Balian said he’s unsure if that deadline will be met.

John Fasana, a member of both Metro and Foothill boards, said the schedule for train car deliveries is “definitely a concern” and “tighter than we’d like.” He agreed that longer headways would taint the hard work of the construction crews working feverishly these past years to complete the extensions on time.

Bricker said to open a line with inadequate service is an insult to the thousands of residents on L.A’s west side who’ve suffered through lane closures and traffic delays so the line could be built.

“Yes, there is a lot of anticipation on both corridors,” Bricker said. “Ours will be a great alternative (to driving). So we would like to get it open.”

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November 4th, 2014
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Arcadia Transit Plaza Dedication – Thursday, November 6

Posted by GoldLine

On Thursday, November 6, 2014, the Foothill Gold Line will join city of Arcadia officials in dedicating the Arcadia Transit Plaza, a new vibrant gathering space within Downtown Arcadia, and the future transportation hub for Gold Line riders. The Arcadia Transit Plaza, which is located adjacent to the future Arcadia Gold Line Station, was made possible by a partnership between the City of Arcadia, Foothill Gold Line, Metro and the Federal Transit Administration. The dedication is open to the public:

Arcadia Transit Plaza Dedication Ceremony
Thursday, November 6, 2014
4:00 PM
99 Santa Clara St (at First Ave)
Arcadia, CA

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November 3rd, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Roof panel installation is currently underway at the Azusa Downtown Station.

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October 31st, 2014
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Foothill Gold Line CEO Habib F. Balian: Gold Line an economic catalyst for San Gabriel Valley – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Posted by GoldLine

The following Opinion appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on October 29, 2014.

Gold Line an economic catalyst for San Gabriel Valley: Guest commentary – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By Habib F. Balian

When a transportation infrastructure project as robust as the Foothill Gold Line is discussed, it’s usually in terms of improving mobility — certainly a major need in the semi-regular traffic jam that is Southern California.

Too often lost — but not forgotten by planners, economists and the business community — is the economic impact an investment such as this will have on our region as a whole.

Throughout the San Gabriel Valley, signs of this economic transformation can already be seen in the form of transit-oriented and related developments.

Last month, ground was broken on the Station Square Transit Village in Monrovia, the largest public works project in the city’s history and a direct investment of more than $40 million into the local economy.

A month later, on Oct. 18, the Foothill Gold Line held a track completion ceremony a short walk from a two-story Target store in downtown Azusa — one of several transit-oriented developments planned for that city. Recent months have seen Glendora and Pomona both moving forward with their own projects tied to next phase of the light rail line currently undergoing advanced design.

These and other retail, housing and commercial developments will pump billions of dollars into the local economy. According to a study funded by the Federal Transit Administration, every public dollar invested in the Foothill Gold Line will return $43.50 in private investment and economic development.

Another study, by the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, projected that construction of the Pasadena to Azusa phase alone would generate $930 million in direct and indirect business revenues, create 6,900 jobs and result in $39 million in state income taxes, sales taxes and local fees.

The notion of transportation infrastructure as an economic engine is not a new one. Postwar investment in highways, rail lines and bridges created millions of jobs, expanded our ability to move goods from one end of the continent to the other, and helped build the American middle class.

It’s no coincidence that our major economic centers have, at their core, highly effective transportation networks. Even Los Angeles County, as maligned as we are for our congestion, is home to the world’s largest, most sophisticated goods movement system and voter-approved, locally funded transit network in the state’s and nation’s history.

Economic conditions are more complicated now, but the broader impact of sound transportation investment has never wavered. In its most recent Regional Transportation Plan, the Southern California Association of Governments reported that every dollar spent on highway and transit projects over the next 25 years would return $2.90 in increased worker productivity, improved air quality and business opportunity.

The Gold Line is a true example of how public investment in transportation creates bigger opportunities for our region as a whole. Since the project’s first phase, to Pasadena, opened 11 years ago, more than 1,800 residential units and 175,000 square feet of retail and commercial space have been built within an easy walk to Pasadena’s six stations. In South Pasadena, the Gold Line has helped transform the downtown into a vibrant shopping district, filled with higher density housing, restaurants and boutiques.

Similarly, the 11.5-mile Foothill Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa, which is on budget and more than 80 percent complete, offers built-in economic development opportunities between and around its six new stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa.

As subsequent phasing takes the Gold Line further east to Montclair, the possibility of connecting centers of learning, technology and health research throughout the corridor will become a reality, creating opportunities that visionaries could only dream of a decade ago.

In the coming months, as the Station Square Transit Village takes form and the Pasadena to Azusa light rail segment of the Foothill Gold Line edges closer to completion, the region’s vision and insight will be realized.

This is not simply a transit project. It’s an economic catalyst for the region.

Habib F. Balian is chief executive officer of the Foothill Gold Line.

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October 30th, 2014
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