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Metro Foothill Gold Line wants MTA to include project extension to Claremont in short-term plan – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on June 27, 2014.

Metro Foothill Gold Line wants MTA to include project extension to Claremont in short-term plan – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By Steve Scauzillo

June 27, 2014

After weeks of negotiations with the powerful Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the independent San Gabriel Valley train-building agency came away with a dotted line on a map between east Azusa and Claremont.

That dotted line on the MTA’s Short Range Transportation Plan does represent the third segment of the foothills route of the Gold Line light-rail. But that pictorial concession is not enough to get MTA to commit to closing the project’s $1 billion funding gap, proponents say.

On Thursday, the two sides continued their battles in a funding war that could end July 17 when the region’s subway extension and highway widening projects come before the full governing board of the MTA known as Metro.

“Without full inclusion of the project to Claremont … the plan treats the Foothill Gold Line to Claremont differently than other under-funded Measure R projects,” wrote Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority Chairman Doug Tessitor of Glendora on Thursday in a letter to MTA chief Art Leahy.

The two sides have been jockeying for placement of the unfunded Gold Line extension from Azusa to Claremont on a 10-year funding plan for months. The Gold Line folks erupted last month when they learned the MTA did not include their project in the transportation plan at all.

Three members of Congress wrote a joint letter to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who wields tremendous power on the MTA board. Reps. Adam Schiff, Grace Napolitano and Judy Chu wrote asking MTA to make changes to its funding plan.

“We are dismayed to learn that Metro’s draft plan once again ignores the completion of this voter-mandated project,” they wrote on June 20.

Measure R, a half-cent sales tax approved by county voters for transportation projects in 2008, listed the foothill Gold Line extension from east Pasadena to Claremont, a $1.86 billion project. However, Metro only funded about $860,000 for the first leg of the extension, which is on schedule and will be completed in September 2015, according to the authority. The line opened in 2003 from downtown’s Union Station to Pasadena.

Tessitor’s letter asks Metro to include the full project to Claremont with a completion date of 2022 — well within the 10-year plan’s endpoint. The letter also asks that the Azusa-to-Claremont project become a “first priority project” for new funding for future transit and highway projects.

The congressional letter says Metro included the full foothill Gold Line extension as one of four priority capital projects in its 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan, so it makes sense to include it in the short-range document.

But doing so without indicating the full cost of the project would be “an empty gesture,” wrote the members of Congress.

The Azusa to Claremont light-rail line is environmentally cleared and will be ready for a design-build phase in 2017 for completion in 2022, according to the authority and the members of Congress.

In their letter, the elected officials say the federal government is ready to fund the county’s transportation projects, which include a phased extension of the westside subway to Westwood.

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June 30th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Progress is very visible along the center median of the I-210 Freeway these days. As seen here, work has been underway this week to align the southern track.

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June 27th, 2014
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San Gabriel Valley business leaders urge Metro to build promised Goldline extension to Claremont – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on June 18, 2014.

San Gabriel Valley business leaders urge Metro to build promised Goldline extension to Claremont – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By Jason Henry

June 18, 2014

A group of San Gabriel Valley business leaders on Wednesday called on Metro to fulfill a promise to voters to extend the Gold Line from Azusa to Claremont by adding the project to a recently-released plan.

A draft of its Short Range Transportation Plan released earlier this month by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority incensed stakeholders when it did not include the Claremont extension. Proponents argued Metro agreed to the project when voters passed Measure R, a half-cent sales tax, in 2008.

“We are concerned that the Metro will not keep its promise to voters who approved Measure R to complete the Gold Line to Claremont,” stated Cynthia Kurtz, president and CEO of San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, “The completion of this project is vital to this region where nearly one-fifth of Los Angeles County residents reside.”

Kurtz, along with the heads of 11 San Gabriel Valley chambers of commerce, signed a letter to Metro’s Transportation Planning Manager Robert Calix that urges Metro to amend their plan to include the Claremont segment. The letter joins previous calls from legislators and other stakeholders for Metro to finish its complete foothills extension.

“The Gold Line Foothill Extension to Claremont was one of only two Measure R rail transit capital projects identified in 2009 as a ‘first priority’ project for new funding. The now fully funded Crenshaw Line was the other project,” the letter states. “As currently drafted, the SRTP completely ignores the Azusa-to-Claremont segment of the Gold Line. It does not even include completion of this second segment in the portion of the SRTP that assumes new funding becoming available.”

The first phase of the Gold Line’s expansion — from Pasadena to Azusa — is under construction now, but the second phase to Claremont stalled because Measure R does not have the funds to pay for it, said Metro Spokesman Paul Gonzales.

“It’s not like we’re not hearing this, we are hearing it, and it is something that we’re working on and it’s something that we’re working toward, but currently there is not adequate funding to get it there,” Gonzales said.

The partnership’s letter indicates that the Pasadena-to-Azusa segment is on schedule and on budget for a September 2015 completion. The Azusa-to-Claremont extension “is environmentally cleared and will be ready for design-build in 2017.”

“It could be completed by 2022, easily within the timeline of the Short Range Transportation Plan,” the letter states.

While the project got environmental clearance from the state, federal clearance is still pending, Gonzales said.

“It’s part of the long-range plan, but currently there is not enough funding for it,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that part couldn’t change. We just have to wait and see.”

Metro’s board will vote on the short-range plan at its July board meeting.

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June 20th, 2014
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Excerpt: A Photo Essay of a Tour of the Gold Line Foothill Extension – Streetsblog Los Angeles

Posted by GoldLine

The following excerpt appeared in Streetsblog Los Angeles on June 19, 2014. To view the full-length Streetsblog article and photo gallery, click here.

Excerpt: A Photo Essay of a Tour of the Gold Line Foothill Extension – Streetsblog Los Angeles

By Aviv Kleinman

June 19, 2014

This Wednesday, Aviv Kleinman and Damien Newton of Streetsblog joined a behind-the-scenes tour of the Gold Line Foothill Extension under construction in the San Gabriel Valley. We joined Albert Ho, head of Media Relations for the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, and Jeff Rowland, the Community Relations Manager for the Kiewit-Parsons Joint Venture, the constructors of the project.

Jeff Rowland, the Community Relations Manager for the  Kiewit-Parsons Joint Venture, knows just about everything there is to know about the Gold Line extension, and railroad construction in general. I made sure to pick his brain with many questions throughout the day, and he was able to answer them all with facts and figures.

IMG_2309

It was the most comprehensive tour we could have ever imagined, and we had a long and great day on the tour. We toured the future Maintenance and Operations (M&O) facility, the flyover bridge that crosses the 210 Freeway, and many future stations and sections of track alignment. We’re splitting tour coverage into four separate posts: The first about the line in general, the second about the maintenance yard, the third about the iconic bridge, and the fourth about Transit-Oriented-Development built and planned around the line.

The Metro Gold Line is a 19.7 mile light rail line running from East Los Angeles to Pasadena via Union Station in Downtown L.A. The line’s first phase entered service in 2003, serving 21 stations. The line’s third phase, the Foothill Extension, will extend from its current terminus in East Pasadena, at Sierra Madre Villa to Azusa, serving another 6 stations over the course of 11.3 miles. The extension will serve five cities directly, and it is proposed to transform transportation and development patterns in the San Gabriel Valley. Once bounded by the distress of being caught in freeway gridlock, San Gabriel Valley residents will now have the freedom to commute by Metro rail into Downtown LA and endless locations from there by using the new Gold Line extension.

In this first installment of the series, we explore the stations, track alignment, and construction machinery and processes. Photos and renderings will be displayed in that order.

To view the rest of the full-length article and photo gallery, click here.

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June 19th, 2014
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Duarte Dispatch: Duarte (Gold Line) Station Specific Plan Receives Economic Development Award

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the Duarte Dispatch on June 17, 2014. For more information on the Duarte Station Specific Plan, click here.

Duarte Station Specific Plan Receives Economic Development Award

June 17, 2014

The City of Duarte has received the 2014 Economic Planning and Development Award from the American Planning Association – Los Angeles Chapter (APALA) for the Duarte Station Specific Plan and EIR. The award was presented on June 12 at the APALA awards gala in Los Angeles. The specific plan was recognized for its forward thinking approach to planning with a focus on both economically feasible development and high quality design standards.

The Duarte Station Specific Plan was adopted by the Duarte City Council on December 10, 2013 and establishes the economic and land use framework for an innovative, transit oriented development adjacent to the future Duarte Gold Line Station scheduled to begin service in 2016. The Plan provides for mixed-use development of up to 475 residential units, 400,000 square feet of office, 12,000 of commercial, and 250 hotel rooms in the 19-acre planning area. RBF, the Dahlin Group and Economic and Planning Systems assisted in the drafting of the plan.

One unique element of the plan was its incorporation of a Fiscal Impact Analysis that analyzed both the financial impacts of plan and the economic feasibility of development in the area. Community Development Director Craig Hensley explained, “From the beginning of the project, the City set the goal to develop a plan that would promote development at the Duarte Gold Line Station area. To accomplish this, the plan needed to allow for a mix of uses and densities that would be feasible for development. The plan also required excellent architectural designs so that development near the Gold Line station would be special and create a positive sense of place. It is great that the APALA has recognized the quality work that was done in Duarte.”

This award is another indicator that Duarte is dedicated to quality economic development and the City Council and City Staff are on the right track. “This is a great follow up to the Most Business Friendly City award,” Hensley said. For additional information on the Duarte Station Specific Plan and EIR visit www.accessduarte.com or call (626) 357-7931, ext. 230.

The City of Duarte has received the 2014 Economic Planning and Development Award from the American Planning Association – Los Angeles Chapter (APALA) for the Duarte Station Specific Plan and EIR. The award was presented on June 12 at the APALA awards gala in Los Angeles. The specific plan was recognized for its forward thinking approach to planning with a focus on both economically feasible development and high quality design standards. The Duarte Station Specific Plan was adopted by the Duarte City Council on December 10, 2013 and establishes the economic and land use framework for an innovative, transit oriented development adjacent to the future Duarte Gold Line Station scheduled to begin service in 2016. The Plan provides for mixed-use development of up to 475 residential units, 400,000 square feet of office, 12,000 of commercial, and 250 hotel rooms in the 19-acre planning area. RBF, the Dahlin Group and Economic and Planning Systems assisted in the drafting of the plan. One unique element of the plan was its incorporation of a Fiscal Impact Analysis that analyzed both the financial impacts of plan and the economic feasibility of development in the area. Community Development Director Craig Hensley explained, “From the beginning of the project, the City set the goal to develop a plan that would promote development at the Duarte Gold Line Station area. To accomplish this, the plan needed to allow for a mix of uses and densities that would be feasible for development. The plan also required excellent architectural designs so that development near the Gold Line station would be special and create a positive sense of place. It is great that the APALA has recognized the quality work that was done in Duarte.”This award is another indicator that Duarte is dedicated to quality economic development and the City Council and City Staff are on the right track. “This is a great follow up to the Most Business Friendly City award,” Hensley said. For additional information on the Duarte Station Specific Plan and EIR visit www.accessduarte.com or call (626) 357-7931, ext. 230.

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

Posted by GoldLine

These mosaic pavers are currently being cast and readied for installation as part of the future artwork at the Irwindale Station.

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June 13th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

This week, the concrete soundwalls were completed between the Santa Anita Wash and Mayflower Ave in Monrovia.

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June 6th, 2014
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Gold Line extension to Claremont left off funding list by MTA – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on June 5, 2014.

Gold Line extension to Claremont left off funding list by MTA – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By Steve Scauzillo

June 5, 2014

Members of the agency in charge of extending the Gold Line to Claremont were shocked this week to learn the project is not included on the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s Short Range Transportation Plan.

Already, the omission has rekindled the bad blood between the independent Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority and MTA, known as Metro, that began when the last 12-mile extension of the northerly portion of the rail line was left out of Metro’s long range planning in 2012.

Members of the Construction Authority board, including Metro board member John Fasana, a Duarte City Councilman, voted unanimously in May to direct Metro staff to list the full project in the plan.

So far, Metro has only given more than $851 million for the project’s first extension from east Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border, under construction and scheduled to be completed in September 2015. Monies for the entire project extension to Claremont and possibly beyond to Montclair or the Ontario International Airport are not mentioned.

“The board said in the motion that the Gold Line to Claremont should be included in the 10-year (short range) plan and should be on their future projects list,” explained Lisa Levy Bush, spokesperson for the Construction Authority.

The total cost of the Gold Line Foothill extension to Claremont is about $1.86 billion, a number the Metro staff does not recognize in the new document, she said.

But under Measure R, a half-cent sales tax passed by voters in 2008 for transportation projects, the full project to Claremont was listed. The fact that voters approved the entire project is ammunition being used by board members and members of the state Legislature to get Metro to amend the short-range plan by including the entire Gold Line extension along the foothills of Los Angeles County.

“I am extremely disappointed and frustrated that the plan totally ignores a regional priority — completion of the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Claremont,” wrote Assemblyman Chris Holden, D-Pasadena, in a letter to Metro’s Robert Calix, transportation planning manager, dated May 29.

Holden goes on to say that the extension was listed by Metro as a capital project in the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan as “first in line for any new funding sources outside federal New Starts,” yet the latest document doesn’t include the cost of the project to Claremont nor does it mention completion of the “voter-mandated project.”

Doug Tessitor, chairman of the Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority Board, said it seems like every time the Gold Line takes a step forward, such as nearing completion of its first foothill extension, Metro wants to pull on the reins.

“We’ve always been the ugly step-child. They don’t want us to go to the dance,” he said in an interview Thursday.

Tessitor said he believes the board is more open to a regional approach to rail projects. He said new Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, who has tremendous power on the Metro board, has indicated his support for the foothill extension.

“I don’t think it is coming from the board. I think it is the Metro staff led probably by Art Leahy. I don’t know what his animus is against our project,” Tessitor said.

Metro CEO Leahy has been vocal about not supporting the Foothill extension to Claremont, Montclair or Ontario. At a San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments meeting in June 2012 he said: “The Gold Line is funded to Azusa. Period. There is no more money for the Gold Line (Foothill Extension).”

Metro’s short-range plan is an effort to appeal for more tax dollars, possibly through an additional tax measure for transportation set for the November 2016 ballot in Los Angeles County.

If additional funds were available, the plan calls for speeding up the completion dates for the following Metro projects:

Green Line Extension from 2035 to 2023; Westside subway (Purple Line Extension) from 2036 to 2025; LAX Metro Connector from 2028 to 2023; Sepulveda Pass Transit Corridor from 2039 to 2027.

It also calls for speeding up a planned extension of the Eastside Gold Line from East Los Angeles to either South El Monte along the 60 Freeway corridor or to Whittier along Washington Boulevard from 2035 to 2025.

Comments on the Metro short-range plan are being taken until June 18. The Metro board is scheduled to vote on the plan at its July board meeting.

Glendora and Montclair have also written letters to Metro asking that the short-range plan include the full extension, Tessitor said.

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June 6th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Crews have begun installing the roof on the Duarte/City of Hope Station canopy structure.

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May 30th, 2014
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Candidates for Gloria Molina’s L.A. County supervisor seat square off – Los Angeles Times

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Times on May 29, 2014.

Candidates for Gloria Molina’s L.A. County supervisor seat square off – Los Angeles Times

Debate

By Abby Sewell

May 29, 2014

With only five days left before the June 3 election, former U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis faced off for the first time Thursday with one of her opponents in the race to succeed Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina.

Three candidates are vying for the seat Molina is vacating due to term limits. They include Solis, who has a strong lead in fundraising and endorsements; Juventino “J” Gomez, an El Monte city councilman and former aide to Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich; and school police officer April Saucedo Hood.

Solis and Gomez appeared side by side at a lunch forum in Pomona put on by a group of San Gabriel Valley business and civic organizations and the local water authority. It was attended by about 130 local businesspeople, activists and elected officials.

The candidates fielded prescreened questions and were warned prior to the forum not to engage in personal attacks.

Solis and Gomez both highlighted their histories in the San Gabriel Valley and promised to advocate for a region that Gomez described as the county’s “stepchild.”

Both said they would make it a priority to complete the extension of the Gold Line train from Sierra Madre to the Ontario Airport. And both voiced support for a proposal by U.S. Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park) to designate the San Gabriel mountains and river corridor as a National Recreation Area.

Gomez said he also wants the county to look again at bringing a trauma center to the eastern San Gabriel Valley, which currently does not have one.

The candidates touted their plans to bring jobs to the area. Solis said she would make getting people back to work her “No. 1 priority,” pledging to focus on strengthening job training programs and creating industry centers like a proposed biomedical corridor near L.A. County-USC Medical Center. Gomez promised to streamline county processes for dealing with businesses and developments.

On issues of public safety, Gomez promised a tough-on-crime approach: “I’m going to elevate the level of safety and protection in your community …. It has to be a safer place to work and play.”

Solis pointed out that crime rates have dropped substantially in the 1st District under Molina’s tenure, and said she wanted to see more resources devoted to community drug and mental health treatment programs and “making sure we don’t spend an inordinate amount of money just putting people in cells.”

Saucedo Hood declined to join them, saying she had a scheduling conflict. She also criticized the organizers for charging admission to the event — tickets to the lunch forum were $30. Gabriel Monares, one of the event organizers, said they had only charged as much as needed to cover the costs of the event.

The race for Molina’s seat, where Solis largely cleared the field more than a year before the election, stands in contrast to the hotly contested race for Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky’s 3rd District seat representing West Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley, where eight candidates are running and more than 20 debates have been held.

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May 30th, 2014
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