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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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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Another major milestone was achieved this week when the last of 14 at-grade crossings was completed. Here, the Mountain Ave crossing is fully open, three months ahead of schedule.

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October 24th, 2014
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Project Achieves Major Milestone, Completion of All Light Rail Track

Posted by GoldLine

With two strikes of the ceremonial golden hammer by the track crew foreman and Monrovia resident, Elias Avila, the final e-clip was installed this past Saturday at approximately 11 a.m. Once in place, this final action completed all 28 miles of light rail track needed for the Foothill Gold Line light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa.

Installation of the final e-clip was one of many photo-worthy moments at the Track Completion Ceremony that took place this past Saturday. More than 400 community members, project stakeholders, elected officials and members of the media were in attendance at the event, which was held near the future Azusa Downtown Station in the City of Azusa. All witnessed the historic moment when the track was fully completed, connecting the cities of Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa via this new light rail line.

Local, county, state and federal officials from throughout the corridor cities attended the event. Speaking about the importance of this project milestone were Congress Members Grace Napolitano and Judy Chu; State Senator Norma Torres; State Assembly Member Roger Hernandez; County Supervisor Michael Antonovich; Construction Authority Board Members Doug Tessitor (Glendora Council Member), Sam Pedroza (Claremont Council Member), and John Fasana (Duarte Council Member); Azusa Mayor Joseph Rocha and Council Member Uriel Macias; and Metro Board Member and Glendale City Council Member Ara Najarian. Mayors and Council Members from all of the project’s corridor cities, along with other Construction Authority board members, were present for this memorable occasion.

For a recap of the event, view the photo gallery below or watch the ABC 7 news segment.

Photo Gallery of Event Moments (click photos to enlarge):

Ceremonial golden hammer and final e-clip.

Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, Azusa Mayor Joseph Rocha, and Foothill Gold Line Board Chairman Doug Tessitor arrived at the Track Completion Ceremony via a hi-rail vehicle.

Congresswoman Judy Chu addresses the crowd at the Track Completion Ceremony.

More than 400 community members, project stakeholders, elected officials and members of the media were in attendance.

Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian getting ready to hand off the final e-clip.

Track crew foreman and Monrovia resident, Elias Avila, moments before installing the final e-clip.

(left to right) Foothill Gold Line Board Chairman Doug Tessitor, Vice Chairman Sam Pedroza, Member John Fasana; crew member Elias Avila; Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian; and Kiewit Infrastructure West Vice President Andy Peplow.

Federal, state and local officials unveiled a plaque at the site of the last e-clip installation, commemorating the day and the importance of the project to the cities of Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa.

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October 20th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Crew member Elias Avila hammered in the final e-clip to complete all 28 miles of track for the Foothill Gold Line light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa.

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October 18th, 2014
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INFOGRAPHIC: “Who Knew That Building A Light Rail Track Could Be So Interesting?”

Posted by GoldLine

How many swimming pools could you fill with all the ballast used in the Pasadena to Azusa segment of the Foothill Gold Line? The answer is below.

In continuing a week of celebration leading to this Saturday’s public ceremony (event details below), where we will witness the completion of the light rail track installation for the 11.5-mile Foothill Gold Line light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa, the Construction Authority has released the infographic below to reveal some fun statistics on this important element of the project.

(click image to download full-size version, < 1 mb)

Foothill Gold Line Track Completion Ceremony

Saturday, October 18, 2014

10:00 AM

795 N Dalton Ave, Azusa, CA 91702

More than 300 project stakeholders, community members, and elected officials are expected to participate at the Track Completion Ceremony the morning of October 18, 2014. During the Track Completion Ceremony, the final rail clip will be driven into place, marking the permanent connection between the cities of Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa, via this new light rail line. For more information, visit www.foothillgoldline.org.

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October 16th, 2014
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VIDEO: “Building the Light Rail Track System”

Posted by GoldLine

In anticipation of this Saturday’s public ceremony (event details below) celebrating the completion of all 28 miles of track for the Foothill Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa, the Construction Authority has released a step-by-step video highlighting the five-step process involved in building the track system.

The video release kicks off a week of celebration, as the first Measure R-funded rail project to break ground four years ago now hits a major milestone with all 28-miles of light rail track needed for the project in place.

VIDEO: “Building the Light Rail Track System”


Foothill Gold Line Track Completion Ceremony

Saturday, October 18, 2014

10:00 AM

795 N Dalton Ave, Azusa, CA 91702

More than 300 project stakeholders, community members, and elected officials are expected to participate at the Track Completion Ceremony the morning of October 18, 2014. During the Track Completion Ceremony, the final rail clip will be driven into place, marking the permanent connection between the cities of Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa, via this new light rail line. For more information, visit www.foothillgoldline.org.

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

Posted by GoldLine

Work continues on the 200-space parking facility at the future APU/Citrus College station.

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October 10th, 2014
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L.A. area ranks third on jobs near transit, says new study – The Source

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in The Source on October 8, 2014.

L.A. area ranks third on jobs near transit, says new study – The Source

October 8, 2014

University of Minnesota ranks accessibility to jobs by transit in the U.S.(news release)

MinnesotaStudyMap

The study finds that Los Angeles ranks third behind New York and San Francisco when it comes to the number of jobs near transit. That puts the L.A. area ahead of some older and more established transit cities such as Chicago, Washington, Boston and Philly.

I don’t think the map is exactly shocking news to those who live here and know our area — but the map still makes a pretty visual argument for better connecting transit to downtown Los Angeles and the Westside. The map also suggests that the Measure R-funded transit projects that Metro is building or plans to build are serving a real purpose. The short list:

•The Purple Line Extension will directly connect downtown Los Angeles to Westwood via the Wilshire Corridor with a short detour to Century City.

•The Expo Line’s second phase connects Santa Monica, West L.A. and downtown L.A. via Culver City, the northern part of South L.A. and Exposition Park.

•The Regional Connector will link the Gold Line, Blue Line and Expo Line in downtown L.A. and allow easier and faster access to and through downtown L.A. for riders on all three lines.

•The Gold Line Foothill Extension extends the Gold Line to the Azusa/Glendora border, making for easier and faster access to jobs in the Pasadena area, downtown L.A. and beyond (i.e. the Westside). Meanwhile, the second phase of the Eastside Gold Line is being studied and would connect either South El Monte or Whittier to downtown L.A. via this project and the Regional Connector.

•The Crenshaw/LAX Line will serve a north-south corridor starting at the Green Line’s Redondo Beach Station and extending north to the Expo Line, including the job-rich area around the airport. The Expo Line, in turn, offers east-west access to jobs. The map also suggests that extending the Crenshaw/LAX Line north — a project in Metro’s long-range plan but unfunded — would connect people to more jobs to the east and west via the Purple Line. A South Bay Green Line Extension, also on the Measure R list, could extend the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line deeper into the South Bay.

•The map also suggests that connecting the San Fernando Valley to the Westside via the Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor makes sense and that the area along Van Nuys Boulevard — to be served by the East San Fernando Transit Corridor — is also a wise proposition in the short-term. The Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor is a long-term project not scheduled for completion until the 2030s unless funding is found to build and accelerate it, but the project could eventually connect to the bus rapid transit or light rail built as part of the East San Fernando Valley Transit project along Van Nuys Boulevard.

•The map also shows that the Warner Center area is one of the more job rich areas in the Valley, thereby suggesting that it makes sense for Metro to pursue improvements to the Orange Line. See this recent Source post for more about that.

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October 8th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

This week, the canopy structures were installed at the Irwindale station. Here, the first of four canopy structures is being put in place.

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October 3rd, 2014
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Preview of Duarte/City of Hope Gold Line Station Art

Posted by GoldLine

Duarte/City of Hope Gold Line station artists Andrea Myklebust and Stanton Sears recently released a preview of their still-in-progress limestone art pieces, to be installed at a later date atop the steel structures at the platform.

To learn more about Andrea Myklebust and Stanton Sears and their unique artwork for the Duarte/City of Hope Gold Line station, watch their artist spotlight video feature: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqFNvE9RV9w

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October 3rd, 2014
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