This week, the concrete soundwalls were completed between the Santa Anita Wash and Mayflower Ave in Monrovia.
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.
|June 6th, 2014|
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|May 30th, 2014|
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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
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.
|May 30th, 2014|
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The forms were recently removed from the decorative railings on the Santa Anita Ave Bridge in Arcadia, revealing the architectural beauty of the new light rail bridge.
|May 23rd, 2014|
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Purple Line Extension secures $1.25-billion federal New Starts grant and $856-million federally-backed loan – The SourcePosted by GoldLine
The following article appeared in The Source on May 21, 2014.
Purple Line Extension secures $1.25-billion federal New Starts grant and $856-million federally-backed loan – The Source
By Steve Hymon
May 21, 2014
The signing of the funding documents this morning. From left, Metro Board Member Ara Najarian, Board Member Pam O’Connor, Metro CEO Art Leahy, Rep. Janice Hahn, L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti, Board Chair Diane DuBois, Rep. Grace Napolitano, Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky and Federal Transit Administration Chief Counsel Dorval Carter.
Officials from Metro and the Federal Transit Administration signed a pair of agreements this morning in Washington D.C. for a $1.25-billion federal grant and a $856-million federally-backed loan to build the first phase of the Purple Line Extension subway under Wilshire Boulevard. We’ll post video of this morning’s event later.
The agreements clear the way for construction activities to begin later this year on the 3.9-mile addition to the Purple Line, which currently terminates at Wilshire Boulevard and Western Avenue. The first phase of the project will extend the line to the intersection of Wilshire and La Cienega Boulevard in Beverly Hills. Three new stations will be included in the first phase: at Wilshire and La Brea Avenue, Wilshire and Fairfax Avenue and Wilshire and La Cienega.
The first phase of the project is scheduled for completion in 2023 with a project budget of $2.821 billion. The Metro Board of Directors is scheduled this summer to select a contractor to build the first phase. The subway is one of 12 transit projects funded in part by the Measure R half-cent sales tax increase approved by more than two million voters in Los Angeles County in 2008 (the measure passed with 67.93 percent approval).
Utility relocations are already underway on the first phase and a 75-foot-deep exploratory shaft has already been dug across the street from LACMA in order to validate and learn more about soil conditions in that area. A number of fossils were found, identified and preserved during the excavation of the shaft.
The second phase of the project will extend the line to Century City in 2026 and the third phase to Westwood in 2036. Metro continues to explore ways that the second and third phase of the subway project and other road and transit projects may be accelerated from their original Measure R timelines.
The federal New Starts program is providing the $1.25-billion grant; the money will be appropriated to Metro on a year-by-year basis by Congress. The New Starts program helps local transit agencies build large and expensive transit projects.
The $856-million loan is coming from the TIFIA program that helps provide low-interest loans backed by the federal government to build new infrastructure; TIFIA helps reduce interest costs. The TIFIA program was expanded by Congress in 2012 to include transportation projects and is part of Metro’s America Fast Forward initiative to expand federal funding for transportation projects.
Metro also secured a $670-million New Starts grant and $160-million TIFIA loan earlier this year to help fund construction of the Regional Connector, a 1.9-mile underground light rail line that will connect the Blue Line, Expo Line and Gold Line in downtown Los Angeles to speed trips throughout the county and to downtown.
Here’s video of Metro CEO Art Leahy talking about the significance of today’s announcement:
The news release from Metro is below:
Delivering on the Promise of Measure R
L.A. METRO RECEIVES AGREEMENTS FOR NEARLY $2 BILLION IN FEDERAL GRANTS AND LOW-INTEREST LOANS FOR PURPLE LINE EXTENSION PROJECT
Los Angeles, Calif. – Marking an historic vote of confidence in Metro Rail subway construction in Los Angeles, The L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) today joined federal, state and local elected officials to announce the receipt of a $1.25 billion Full Funding Grant Agreement (FFGA) from the Federal Transit Administration to help pay for the first nearly four-mile, $2.821-billion segment of the long-awaited Metro Purple Line Extension Project toward West Los Angeles.
Additionally, the U.S. Department of Transportation simultaneously granted Metro a low-interest loan of $856 million from a Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) Loan to complete the funding package for the first phase of the project. Combined, the nearly $2 billion in project commitments represent the single biggest federal transportation investment in the history of Los Angeles County. The remaining $821 million in project funding includes Measure R, City of Los Angeles, and other existing local and federal funds.
“The federal commitment not only makes the subway extension to the Westside possible, it underscores the confidence of Washington in what we’re doing here in Los Angeles on many fronts to deal with the nation’s worst traffic congestion,” said Metro Board Chair and Lakewood Councilmember Diane DuBois. “L.A. County is on the move. By the end of the year we’ll have a record five rail lines concurrently under construction in Los Angeles County, funded in part with about $3.5 billion in federal grants and low-interest loans. That is an unprecedented federal commitment to expanding transportation infrastructure in the county, and we are overjoyed and grateful.”
According to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation, construction of the first phase of the Purple Line Extension will support over 25,000 jobs during its construction.
“Today’s signing of the full funding grant agreement for the Purple Line Extension marks a great day for Los Angeles,” said United States Senator Dianne Feinstein. “The project will connect the Westside to the region’s growing rail network, making it possible to get downtown in just 25 minutes. Securing funds for this $2.8 billion project was a joint effort, bringing together stakeholders in Los Angeles, Sacramento and Washington. This cooperation will result in not only a vital alternative to L.A.’s busy freeways, but also the creation of more than 25,000 jobs and significant reductions in carbon emissions. This is a great example of what can be achieved when federal, state and local governments work together.”
“The federal government’s historic funding commitment is a huge down payment for better mobility in Los Angeles,” said Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Board Vice Chair Eric Garcetti. “I want to thank our partners in Washington for helping make sure Los Angeles gets the funding it needs to build our transportation improvements and deliver on the promise of Measure R.”
With federal funding commitments now in place, Metro will soon recommend the selection of a design-build contractor. Preliminary construction activities for the first segment of the project could begin later this year, with completion of the first subway segment anticipated in 2023. The new segment will add three new subway stations: Wilshire/La Brea, Wilshire/Fairfax and Wilshire/La Cienega.
The Purple Line Extension is a critically important, regionally beneficial transit project to extend L.A.’s subway further west from its terminus at Wilshire/Western in the Mid-Wilshire District. The project was overwhelmingly approved by two-thirds of L.A. County voters in 2008 as part of the Measure R transportation sales tax initiative.
“Our lives in West Los Angeles revolve around traffic. Where and when we travel is largely determined by traffic congestion patterns,” said Zev Yaroslavsky, L.A. County Supervisor and Metro Board Member. “Extending the subway will offer commuters an alternative to driving through one of the most congested metropolitan street and highway systems in the nation. We can now see light at the end of the tunnel as the new subway will begin to serve the Wilshire corridor – one of the densest and most important commercial and residential sectors of our region.”
“I am pleased to learn that the Department of Transportation has announced a Full Funding Grant Agreement for the Purple Line extension,” said Congressman Henry Waxman. “This federal money will turn years of planning into a reality, linking Downtown to the Westside and LACMA, the La Brea Tar Pits, Restaurant Row, UCLA, and countless other sites. The Purple Line will be a critical transportation alternative, reducing traffic and congestion and when finished, will connect Westwood to Union Station in 25 minutes. This is an important step towards making this project a reality.”
Current funding streams require the project to be built in three separate phases. When all phases are complete, the Purple Line will extend westward for nearly nine miles with a total of seven new stations. Future planned stations beyond the initial three include: Wilshire/Rodeo, Century City, Westwood/UCLA, and the Westwood/VA Hospital. Under this three-phase scenario, the total project is forecast to cost $6.3 billion. Measure R funds will pay for approximately three-fourths of the overall project cost. Metro is pursuing alternate funding scenarios that could accelerate subway construction.
“The ‘Subway to the Sea’ is about making Los Angeles work better, making it easier for Angelenos to get to work, and putting Angelenos to work,” said Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif). “This subway project is another investment that is building up our great city to connect Angelenos to where they live, work and play. It is expected to create over 25,000 jobs – a needed boost to our local economy, and Angelenos today and for generations to come will benefit from this important project.”
The Purple Line Extension to the Westwood/VA Hospital station will generate about 49,300 daily weekday boardings at the seven new stations. Using a different measure, there will be about 78,000 new daily trips on the full Metro Rail System as a result of opening this line. During peak periods, trains are expected to run every four minutes. During off-peak periods, they are expected to run every 10 minutes.
“I am pleased to see that the Full Funding Grant Agreement for the Purple Line Subway Extenion in Los Angeles has been signed,” said Speaker Emeritus John A. Pérez. “This project will not only create vital activity in our economy, including nearly 26,000 jobs for the people of Los Angeles, it will further demonstrate our commitment to building a sustainable and healthy economy for every person in our city.”
“Today we are moving forward with the next generation of transit for our next generation and together are transforming Los Angeles County,” said Pam O’Connor, Santa Monica Mayor and Metro Board Member.
“This signing is the culmination of years of consensus-building on the Metro board to unanimously support the design and construction of both the Regional Connector and the Purple Line Extension,” said Ara Najarian, Glendale City Council Member and Metro Board Member. “We would not be here today if the board wasn’t pulling for these projects.”
Over 300,000 people travel into the Westside every day for work from throughout the region. More than 100,000 trips leave the area for outside destinations. These numbers are expected to increase over time.
The Purple Line extension will offer improved connectivity to the entire Metro Bus and Rail network, as well as municipal bus lines and other regional transportation services.
Metro is a multimodal transportation agency that is really three companies in one: a major operator that transports about 1.5 million boarding passengers on an average weekday on a fleet of 2,000 clean air buses and six rail lines, a major construction agency that oversees many bus, rail, highway and other mobility related building projects, and it is the lead transportation planning and programming agency for Los Angeles County. Overseeing one of the largest public works programs in America, Metro is, literally, changing the urban landscape of the Los Angeles region. Dozens of transit, highway and other mobility projects largely funded by Measure R are under construction or in the planning stages. These include five new rail lines, the I-5 widening and other major projects. Stay informed by following Metro on The Sourceand El Pasajero at metro.net, facebook.com/losangelesmetro,twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts andinstagram.com/metrolosangeles.
|May 22nd, 2014|
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Work is currently underway on the last three (of 14) at-grade crossings, with crews having begun construction on Mountain Ave this week.
|May 16th, 2014|
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The following column appeared in the Pasadena Star-News on May 14, 2014.
Column: Daily commute is awful — but there’s hope – Pasadena Star-News
By Joe Mathews
May 14, 2014
If you want to know why this column isn’t better, I’ve got an excuse for you: I have a killer Southern California commute.
Since I started driving from my South Pasadena home to my Santa Monica office by way of Arcadia (which isn’t on the way) and back, I’ve spent between three and four hours a day commuting.
Studies show that long commutes take a toll, and that’s borne out by my own health and habits: I’m more tired but still find it harder to fall asleep. I exercise less and spend less time with my kids. I’ve gained 10 pounds in a year when I needed to lose 20.
But in an odd way, my awful commute leaves me hopeful. Because every day, as I make my long, slow drive — first nine miles east to my kids’ preschool, then a U-turn and 34 miles west across most of Central L.A. to the offices of Zócalo Public Square, where I’m a columnist and editor — I get to see the daily progress of Los Angeles’ transportation transformation. Along my miserable drive, there are many signs that my commute will get better and healthier — very soon.
It’s important to stipulate that while many Californians hate our long commutes, such commutes are sometimes the by-product of love.
I love living in a strong community with great schools that is less than two miles from the Pasadena house where I grew up. I love my kids’ preschool in Arcadia, the closest Jewish school preschool to us. And I love my job, even though it is in a gridlocked section of Santa Monica. I feel very comfortable in all three places — it’s just shuttling between them that’s uncomfortable.
But all this travel does hold glimmers of promise.
I start by strapping my two older boys, 5 and 3, into their car seats in the back of the Prius (a godsend for gas savings), and head north to pick up the 210 Freeway East.
The boys love this leg of the trip, because they can see the Metro Gold Line trains running down the middle of the freeway to the edge of East Pasadena. There the construction begins. The Gold Line is being extended all the way to Azusa, one of five new rail projects underway in L.A.; every day, I watch workers lay more track down the middle of the freeway.
The 11.5-mile extension is supposed to be completed by September 2015.
Once I’ve dropped the boys off, I cut south through El Monte to pick up the 10 West. I pass the beautiful new El Monte Station, a point of convergence for a dizzying array of bus systems, trolleys and shuttles. There are new express buses that could get me to downtown L.A. in just a few minutes if that were my destination. Unfortunately, it isn’t.
The 10 is usually jammed. But that’s not a problem for me. I have a transponder that allows me to use the Metro ExpressLanes, the controversial “Lexus lanes” that charge drivers anywhere from 25 cents to $1.40 a mile, depending on the time of day.
Most days, I pay and save more than 20 minutes.
I ride the lanes all the way to their conclusion downtown at Alameda. From there, I get back on the 10 and battle the merciless traffic to Santa Monica.
When I get off the 10 in Santa Monica, I have to cross through the construction of the Expo Line, which is being extended from Culver City to a spot on Colorado Avenue, six blocks from my office.
It’s around 10 a.m. when I arrive at the office; I leave the house a few minutes after 8. In the late afternoon, I repeat the journey, in reverse.
It’s brutal, but I can see a better commute ahead of me. By early 2016, I may be able to walk to a Gold Line train — near my house or after preschool drop-off — and ride to work. If the trains are reliable and on time, I’ll save gas and have more hours to devote to serving you, reader.
Look for me — I’ll be the guy writing this column on the train.
Joe Mathews wrote this column for Zocalo Public Square.
|May 15th, 2014|
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New video infomercials place San Gabriel Valley in middle of transportation funding battle – San Gabriel Valley TribunePosted by GoldLine
The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on May 9, 2014. The video referenced in the article is embedded below. Other videos in the Destination Forward series on sustainable communities, congestion & air quality, and alternative transportation models are also embedded after the article.
Destination Forward: Gold Line Funding & Revenue
New video infomercials place San Gabriel Valley in middle of transportation funding battle – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
By Steve Scauzillo
May 9, 2014
IRWINDALE >> There’s a not-so-subtle message contained in a series of four videos launched Friday by state Sen. Ed Hernandez spotlighting urgent transportation needs in the region:
Don’t forget about the San Gabriel Valley.
“When I came to office, all the transportation dollars seemed to dry up east of the 605 Freeway. I made it my goal when I got in the Legislature to change that,” said Hernandez, D-West Covina, to about 75 city council members, transportation and air quality representatives at an unveiling of the four public service announcements at Charter Communications state headquarters on Irwindale Avenue.
Charter will air the videos in a 30-minute segment to all its California customers, said Del Heintz, director of government relations for the cable TV giant. The public service announcements will reach at least a quarter million households.
Also, Hernandez is making the videos available to San Gabriel Valley cities for broadcast on their websites and community access channels, he said. La Puente City Councilman Dan Holloway said he wants the videos to air in his city.
Each video in the “Destination Forward” series focuses on four different aspects of transportation: sustainable communities, congestion and smog, funding for the Gold Line Foothill Extension and bike lanes and bus routes near light rail and Metrolink stations.
Hernandez says the visual presentation tells audiences it is important to fund local projects not just for the approximately 2 million people living in the San Gabriel Valley, but for the people of California and the economy of the United States.
The San Gabriel Valley moves goods from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles — either by truck or train — to 40 percent of the rest of the United States, said transportation and legislative expert Sharon Neely of the Southern California Association of Governments.
SCAG’s Regional Transportation Plan includes hundreds of projects for the six-county Southern California region. If they were all built, it would pump $66 billion into the economy between now and 2035 and add about 350,000 new jobs a year, SCAG officials said in the video.
A second message shows taxpayers where their dollars are being spent, the senator said.
Hernandez appears wearing a hard hat in a construction site in Arcadia, the future home of that city’s Metro Gold Line station. The 11.5-mile, $751 million project is more than halfway complete and will take the train from east Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border at Citrus College and Azusa Pacific University.
“The expansion of the Gold Line is quite possibly the most exciting transportation project in the history of the San Gabriel Valley,” Hernandez declared in the third video.
He also remarked that he’d like to see the line extended again, not only to Claremont as planned but currently without funding, but to Ontario International Airport. An 8-mile airport segment is not favored by the San Bernardino Associated Governments and a bill enabling the extension by the Gold Line authority recently was killed.
In order to build either extension, the Gold Line and or the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Agency needs funding. Both are discussing another transportation sales tax measure similar to the half-cent sales tax, Measure R, approved by voters in 2008.
Hernandez announced he wants to carry the bill that would place the measure on the November 2016 ballot and is talking to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti about the proposal.
“I want to make sure our area gets its fair share of funding because in the past we’ve gotten the short end of the stick,” Hernandez said.
Congestion & Air Quality
Alternative Transportation Models
|May 12th, 2014|
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Construction of the Arcadia Gold Line station parking structure progresses upward as crews recently began work on the second story.
|May 9th, 2014|
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