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Archive for June, 2011

Announcement: Draft Findings Released Today on Bus Interface Study

Posted by Rodrigo

Community has until July 31 to Comment

Monrovia, CA (June 30, 2011) – Today, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority released draft recommendations for improving local bus, bike and pedestrian access to the future Gold Line stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa. The draft recommendations identify potential areas of improvement to ensure safe, convenient access for future riders in anticipation of the Gold Line’s arrival in 2015.

The study began in late 2009, and has included extensive work with city staff, bus service providers, and future users. In addition to ongoing meetings with city staff and service providers, the Study activities also included open house meetings in all of the station cities (March 2010), on-board surveys of current Gold Line riders, surveys of bus riders on routes adjacent to the Foothill Extension, surveys of local cycling groups, and a telephone survey of corridor residents. The study is funded by a federal grant and the findings will serve as a planning guide for cities along the route.

To view the draft recommendations, visit www.foothillextension.org. Comments are welcome on the draft recommendations, and must be received on or before July 31, 2011 to be used by the Construction Authority to finalize the recommendations. Comments should be e-mailed to Tanya Patsaouras, Station Coordinator, at tpatsaouras@foothillextension.org or sent by mail to: Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, Attn: Tanya Patsaouras, 406 E. Huntington Drive, Suite 202, Monrovia, CA 91016.

The Construction Authority will be conducting a similar study for the next segment of the line, from Azusa to Montclair. Draft recommendations for this segment will be released at a future time.

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For complete announcement and contact information click here.

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Article: Arcadia Gold Line Station Clears Hurdles – Monrovia Patch

Posted by Kristen

The Arcadia City Council paved the way for the design and construction of the Arcadia Station for the Metro Gold Line to begin while also approving improvements to the Colorado Boulevard Railroad Bridge last week.

The council authorized the city manager to execute an agreement with the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority and will appropriate funding from the Santa Anita Grade Separation Fund.

The light rail project has hit some snags in Monrovia over agreement disputes, but Jason Kruckeberg, assistant city manager and development services director, believes things will continue to run smoothly in Arcadia.

“We remain confident it will go forward as planned,” Kruckeberg stated at last week’s council meeting.

To read our most recent coverage of the battle between the GLCA and Monrovia, click here.

A presentation from Phil Wray, the deputy director of development services, explained the details of the plan for Railroad Bridge improvements which include new benches and hand rail frieze panels with a race track horse theme.

The plan also includes aesthetic choices for the station, such as colors, landscaping and possible placement of the city logo and a widening of the bridge, including new sidewalk construction below. The bridge has been a safety concern of residents over the years as it was constructed in the early part of the 1900s. The total cost to the city for the improvements is estimated to be $265,948.

The vote passed 4-0 with Mayor Pro-Tem Robert Harbicht absent.

For original article, click here.

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Article: Good Signs in Gold Line Negotiations – Arcadia Patch

Posted by Rodrigo

Monrovia officials will attend the agency’s next board meeting, which will no longer include eminent domain proceedings.

Fences appear to be mending in the hostile negotiations between the City of Monrovia and Gold Line Construction Authority.

Each side has recently made public gestures signaling a desire to compromise. The city delayed a vote on a proposed sale agreement Tuesday and will postpone the next City Council meeting in order for Monrovia officials to attend the next GLCA board meeting on July 5, according to Monrovia City Manager Scott Ochoa. In return, the GLCA has agreed not to hold eminent domain proceedings at that meeting.

“…The city had been contacted by GLCA staff and we were requested to not act on this matter at the present time, and that the GLCA may have identified a path forward,” Ochoa wrote in his weekly report released Monday. “In exchange for Monrovia’s good faith in not acting, GLCA would respond in kind by not initiating an eminent domain action on Monrovia at its special July 5th Board meeting.”

Habib Balian, CEO of the GLCA, said last week in an email that his agency continues to pursue a compromise with the city.

“In the interim, the construction authority board has instructed its negotiators to explore with city officials work-arounds that satisfy both city and authority interests,” Balian wrote. “The Authority remains hopeful that negotiations will produce a result that is satisfactory to all parties.”

Read about the likelihood that the city and GLCA will reach a compromise.

While negotiations progress, Monrovia officials continue to insist that they have no interest in settling a lawsuit filed against the city by a local property owner. George Brokate, who owns a strip of land along Evergreen Avenue that could be condemned by the GLCA if the city reaches a deal, sued the city earlier this year and his lawsuit is the primary complication holding up a potential Monrovia-Gold Line deal.

Brokate and his lawyers argue that the city would breach a previous settlement agreement and invite an eminent domain action against him if the city sold the GLCA 14 acres of land to be used as the location of a $120 million rail maintenance yard. The yard must be completed somewhere along the Gold Line Foothill Extension for the project to progress.

The Gold Line has asked the city to join it in settling Brokate’s lawsuits (he also has another suit against the GLCA), but Monrovia officials have bristled at the idea and continue to.

Mayor Mary Ann Lutz and the City Council wrote a response to a Pasadena Star-News editorial last week that accused Monrovia of “grandstanding” by refusing to agree to GLCA’s terms.

“We have no standing in the lawsuits against GLCA, and the lawsuit against Monrovia has no merit,” the Council’s response reads. “Thus, why should our residents shoulder an additional financial burden on top of accepting the M&O facility in the first place? Claiming that Monrovia is to blame is worse than wrong, it is absurd. And if exposing such absurdity is “grandstanding,” then so be it.”

What do you think the end result will be in these negotiations?

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Travel the Gold Line from East LA to Pasadena in 3 minutes 15 seconds

Posted by Rodrigo

Check out this fun time lapse tour of the Metro Gold Line posted on Bendix5’s YouTube channel taking you from the Atlantic Station in East LA to the Sierra Madre Villa Station in East Pasadena in just over 3 minutes.

REMINDER: You can also take an aerial tour of the upcoming Gold Line Foothill Extension From Pasadena to Azusa, Azusa to Montclair, and on to Ontario Airport by visiting our website’s videos page.

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Gold Line Foothill Extension Daily Transportation News for Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Posted by Kristen

BLOGS:

News Analysis: As Rhetoric Intensifies, Deal Between GLCA and Monrovia Is Most Likely Outcome — Monrovia Patch
http://monrovia.patch.com/articles/news-analysis-as-rhetoric-intensifies-deal-between-glca-and-monrovia-is-most-likely-outcome

Opinion – GLCA Chairman: Gold Line Could Use Eminent Domain Against Monrovia — Monrovia Patch
http://monrovia.patch.com/articles/glca-chairman-gold-line-could-use-eminent-domain-against-monrovia

Public Invited for Update on Regional Connector Plans — Blog Downtown
http://blogdowntown.com/2011/06/6281-public-invited-for-update-on-regional-connector

Regional Connector Updates Kick Off Later This Morning — Streetsblog L.A.
http://la.streetsblog.org/2011/06/21/regional-connector-updates-kick-off-later-this-morning/

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Our view: Monrovia must cut deal for the Gold Line yard – SGV Tribune

Posted by Rodrigo

This editorial appeared in the Sunday, June 19, 2011 Edition of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

IN many ways, work toward the crucial Gold Line extension from Pasadena to Azusa is going great guns.

Last week, the Gold Line Construction Authority received bids from three prominent design-build engineering teams for the $440 million job. With its happily accelerated timetable, coming from Measure R county sales-tax funding and the plan to condense what would have been 30 years of transit work into a single decade, the plan is to see trains rolling through the central San Gabriel Valley by 2014.

As we reported recently, ridership on the existing Gold Line from east Pasadena into downtown Los Angeles and beyond on the new East Los Angeles extension has hit new highs and continues to increase. Metro, which operates the system, says it will begin later this month to run trains every six minutes in both directions, rather than the current 10 minutes, adding significantly to commuter efficiency and that all-important sense that, hey, this sure beats freeway driving.
But amid all the good news is a potential impasse over the acquisition of land in Monrovia for a needed maintenance yard that could literally derail the entire Gold Line extension.

After other foothill cities declined to come forward to put together parcels of land for the maintenance yard, without which the full Gold Line cannot be built – including cities such as Irwindale with huge parcels of vacant land – the offer by Monrovia to do so was most welcome. The real estate transaction required was always going to be complicated, with the entire 12-acre light-industrial area in the city’s far southeast below the 210 Freeway being owned by various private parties, the Monrovia Redevelopment Agency and the city itself. But hosting the maintenance yard is not necessarily all burden to the city. It’s an excellent investment in not just the region’s but the city’s economic future. It will provide jobs, some of them presumably local. People who work there will need to eat and to shop. And the fact is that getting the Gold Line completed in a timely matter is more important to Monrovia than to any other foothill city because of its huge Station Square mixed-use development to which the presence of the light-rail line is key.

But now the Gold Line and the Monrovia City Council are in a massive spat over how to pay for some unexpected costs coming out of an unfortunate suit by one of the private landowners involved in the deal. That landowner is suddenly asking for far more money from the sale than previously. It’s all bad news, but so is the upshot from it. The consequent delay is endangering the entire project and transit progress for the region. So is the City Council’s and City Hall’s grandstanding on the issue about not altering previous agreements to pay $56 million for the city-owned property “by one penny” and apparent refusal to share with the Gold Line the newly increased costs for the entire parcel. But the city apparently had not disclosed a 2004 covenant with the problem property owner allegedly prohibiting the transaction, and yet is acting “shocked, shocked” that there’s an impediment to a final deal.

Should other area cities come forward with some cash for the deal, as we all benefit from the Gold Line? That would be fine, if unlikely. Seeking another site for the yard, as some on the Monrovia council desire, would add years of delay pending new environmental reports.

Monrovia has to cowboy up here. At its June 21 City Council meeting, it needs to own up to its responsibilities and pay its fair share of the land acquisition. The city has been an aggressive developer itself in recent decades, including the frequent use of eminent domain to shore up its employment base. So if, as would be likely if the city won’t cooperate, the Gold Line Construction Authority begins to explore the use of eminent domain in this deal for the common good, why should the city be surprised?

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Article: Millions of Americans Are Saving Money by Taking Public Transportation

Posted by Rodrigo

Millions of Americans Are Saving Money by Taking Public Transportation

More than 125 Public Transportation Systems are Participating in The Sixth Annual National Dump the Pump Day

In all corners of the United States, from Los Angeles to Seattle to Boston and southern Florida, to Dallas, Phoenix, Chicago, Cincinnati and Nashville, including Honolulu and Anchorage, millions of Americans riding on more than 125 public transportation systems are “dumping the pump” today for the sixth annual National Dump the Pump Day. Sponsored by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), in partnership with the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), this national public awareness day encourages people to save money by parking the car and using public transportation instead.

“It’s no surprise that this year’s National Dump the Pump Day is a huge success,” said APTA President William Millar. “Using public transportation is the quickest way to beat high gas prices – if it is available in your community. Additionally, riding public transportation on National Dump the Pump Day helps the environment and reduces our country’s dependence on oil.”

With high gas prices, more and more people are turning to public transportation as a way of saving money. Transportation ridership is increasing around the country, from Chicago, IL, where the Chicago Transit Authority added more than 300,000 riders in the first quarter of the year – enough to fill Wrigley Field more than six times over – to Olympia, WA, where Intercity Transit has witnessed record level fixed-route ridership in 3 of the first 5 months of the year. The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (Boston, MA) saw the highest monthly ridership in April since September 2008 and the Nashville MTA (Nashville, TN) saw a 29% increase in train and bus routes in April. Examples of double digit increases in ridership in May are also evident in places like Triangle Transit (Research Triangle Park, NC) which had a 31.7% increase in ridership; Hillsborough Area Regional Transit Authority (Tampa, FL) with a 16% increase; City Utilities of Springfield (Springfield, MO) with a 13% increase; and Muncie Indiana Transit Systems (Muncie, IN) saw a 11.1% ridership increase.

“When gas prices are high, people look for ways to save money and so it is not surprising to see ridership increases at public transit systems across the country,” said Millar. “This shows that people want public transportation as a travel option besides driving.”

Pointing out that only 54% of households in the United States have access to public transportation, Millar said, “All levels of government – federal, state and local – need to invest more in public transportation so that all Americans have access to public transit services.”

Some public transportation systems are offering free rides, holding contests, and providing giveaways to reward their riders and to interest new riders. Below is a list of public transportation systems and public transportation associations that are participating in National Dump the Pump Day:

Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

Click here for article with full list.

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The American Public Transportation Association (APTA) is a nonprofit international association of 1,500 public and private member organizations, engaged in the areas of bus, paratransit, light rail, commuter rail, subways, waterborne services, and intercity and high-speed rail. This includes: transit systems; planning, design, construction, and finance firms; product and service providers; academic institutions; transit associations and state departments of transportation. More than 90 percent of the people using public transportation in the United States and Canada are served by APTA member systems.

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Gold Line Foothill Extension Daily Transportation News for Thursday, June 16, 2011

Posted by Kristen

NEWS:

L.A. Council opposes bill that would take away city control of Ontario airport — L.A. Times/L.A. Now
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2011/06/la-council-opposes-bill-that-would-wrest-away-city-control-of-ontario-airport.html

Duarte vows to continue to fight Azusa Rock Quarry mining plan, files appeal to legal defeat — Pasadena Star News
http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_18283589

L.A. council opposes law giving Inland Empire control of Ontario airport — Daily Breeze
http://www.dailybreeze.com/news/ci_18281881

Stronach plans to meet with Arcadia officials over Shops at Santa Anita project — Pasadena Star News

http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_18281849

BLOGS:

Metro announces more frequent Silver Line buses, Gold Line trains as part of Dump the Pump Day — The Source
http://thesource.metro.net/2011/06/16/metro-announces-more-frequent-silver-line-buses-gold-line-trains-as-part-of-dump-the-pump-day/

Metro ridership shows slight uptick in May — The Source
http://thesource.metro.net/2011/06/15/metro-ridership-shows-slight-uptick-in-may/

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Gold Line Foothill Extension Daily Transportation News for Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Posted by Kristen

NEWS:

Guest View: Gold Line Authority should find own solution — SGV Tribune / Pasadena Star News
http://www.sgvtribune.com/opinions/ci_18273512

BLOGS:

Westside Mobility Plan kicks off round of community meetings — The Source
http://thesource.metro.net/2011/06/14/westside-mobility-plan-kicks-off-round-of-community-meetings/#more-24228

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Proposals Received Today for Pasadena to Azusa Alignment Contract

Posted by Rodrigo


The Construction Authority received final proposals this morning for the approximately $440+ million Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa Foothill Extension Alignment contract. Three short-listed teams are vying for the design-build contract that will include final design and construction of the 11.5-mile extension, including all stations, track, crossings, M&O facility, utilities and more.

As a reminder, the three teams are (in alpha order):
• Foothill Transit Constructors, a Kiewit-Parsons Joint Venture
• Shimmick/URS/Stacy and Witbeck Joint Venture
• Skanska/Balfour Beatty Joint Venture

Today’s milestone sets the stage for contract award in July 2011 and project completion by early 2015.

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