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Editorial: Good call not to lower Gold Line extension’s priority – San Bernardino County Sun

Posted by GoldLine

The following Editorial appeared in the San Bernardino County Sun on February 17, 2014.

Editorial: Good call not to lower Gold Line extension’s priority – San Bernardino County Sun

By Los Angeles News Group editorial board

February 17, 2014

Good for SanBAG for rejecting a subcommittee’s recommendation to give low priority to extending the Gold Line to Montclair.

The San Bernardino County Association of Governments acts as the county’s transportation agency. SanBAG’s Commuter Rail and Transit subcommittee last month recommended dropping the Gold Line light-rail extension to No. 3 on the agency’s list of rail construction priorities. First came the Redlands Passenger Rail Project, followed by plans to double-track portions of the San Bernardino Metrolink line.

After hearing criticism, especially from Montclair and Ontario officials, SanBAG’s board decided last week to improve the Gold Line extension’s priority — by doing away with the priority numbers altogether.

So now the three future projects have equal footing in terms of importance. That shouldn’t hurt the Redlands project — a 9-mile route from downtown San Bernardino to the University of Redlands — which is closer to construction and further along in identified funding than the Gold Line.

But it could keep the Gold Line extension from losing out on potential federal funds based on low prioritization by the local transportation agency.

The Gold Line Foothill Extension has enough obstacles to contend with in its slow march eastward. The San Bernardino County portion of the project certainly doesn’t need to be labeled a low priority by an agency that should be its champion.

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February 18th, 2014
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Gold Line extension to Azusa is halfway complete – Pasadena Star-News

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the Pasadena Star-News on February 15, 2014.

Gold Line extension to Azusa is halfway complete – Pasadena Star-News

By Sarah Favot

February 15, 2014

MONROVIA >> The public transportation project involving an 11.5-mile stretch of light rail from Pasadena to Azusa that will connect the Foothill cities to downtown Los Angeles is halfway complete, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority announced this week.

“We still have a significant way to go to substantial completion, but the progress already made provides the confidence that we will be able to meet our schedule and deliver this regionally significant project on time and on budget,” said Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian in a statement.

Ground broke on the project in June 2010 and the contractors are scheduled to turn over the completed project by September 2015 to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Metro will then test the system and decide when it is ready for passengers to board.

When it is completed, the project will include six new light rail stations with parking facilities in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa, 24 new and rebuilt bridges, 14 at-grade street crossings and a $265 million “Operations Campus” that can store 84 light rail cars.

Funded by ballot Measure R, a levy approved by voters in 2008, the Pasadena to Azusa extension is slated to cost $751 million.

The largest contract for the project was awarded to Foothill Transit Constructors for $486 million.

About 250 workers are employed on the project, which will peak at 325, according to Jeff Rowland, community relations manager for FTC. Contractors have put in about 500,000 work hours.

Construction around the at-grade street crossings have caused some headaches in the foothill communities, as there have been intersections that have closed for weeks at a time.

In Arcadia, the intersection and sidewalk at First Avenue and Santa Clara Street has been closed since September. In the heart of downtown, there are several businesses near the closure.

Rowland said FTC tries to keep pedestrian access whenever it’s possible and flood the area with signs that remind residents businesses are open amidst construction.

“(The businesses) are already there and so as opposed to something that will get built up around it, it’s there waiting for us to get done,” said Rowland. “They don’t love it at the moment.”

Monrovia officials are eager to bring the Gold Line into an undeveloped area at Myrtle Avenue and Duarte Road.

A $25 million public improvement project is in the works for Station Square, an 80-acre area that will include a community park, a promenade in front of the old depot and transit plaza.

“These three components will all be public space with the idea of creating synergy and energy to create viable public space that will attract people to the Monrovia station,” said Steve Sizemore, the city’s director of community development.

As part of an agreement negotiated with the Construction Authority for the purchase of city property where the maintenance and operations yard will sit, Monrovia will receive $15.7 million for these public improvements from the Construction Authority.

The 24-acre Operations Campus will sit across Myrtle Avenue from Station Square.

It will be one of the biggest maintenance and operations yards in the Metro system. There will be stations for power washing, maintenance and painting vehicles.

The Operations Campus is slated to be turned over to Metro by March 2015, according to the Construction Authority.

The platforms are constructed and the canopy structures are installed for the station in Duarte, across Duarte Road from City of Hope.

Azusa will have two stations: one downtown and another at Citrus College.

The freight track between San Gabriel Avenue in Azusa and the Glendora city border has been fully realigned to its new position south of the future light rail tracks. Installation is now starting on the light rail tracks.

At halfway through the project, 15 bridges, eight at-grade street crossings, 40 percent of the Operations Campus and 70 percent of the utility work have been completed, according to the Construction Authority.

Arcadia Mayor Mickey Segal praised the rail bridges in the city.

“The Construction Authority and their contractor have done an excellent job making sure that the light rail project fits aesthetically into our city so well that I believe it is going to feel like the train never left Arcadia,” Segal said in a statement.

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February 18th, 2014
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Gold Line Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa Surpasses 50% Completion

Posted by GoldLine

The Construction Authority announced this week that the Foothill Extension light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa is now more than 50% complete. The project is on-budget and on-schedule to be completed and turned over to Metro in September 2015 for testing and pre-revenue service. Metro will decide when passenger service starts.

Tell us what you think about the Gold Line reaching 50% completion on our Facebook page: www.facebook.com/iwillride

Here’s a look at some interesting statistics and achievements since work began in 2010:

- More than 600,000 work hours have been expended – with zero hours lost due to injury
- 8 of the 14 at-grade street crossings have been completed
- 15 of the 24 bridge structures are completed, including the five-time award-winning $18.6 million Gold Line Bridge
- The 24-acre, $265 million Operations Campus is now 40% complete, and will be turned over to Metro in just over a year from now
- 70% of utility work along the 11.5-mile alignment is finished
- More than 50% of the Overhead Catenary System foundations have been put into place
- Freight track between San Gabriel Ave in Azusa and the Glendora city border has been fully realigned to its new position south of the future light rail tracks

Below are a few aerial and ground-level photos that were taken only days ago. More photos of the project’s progress at 50% can be found at our online gallery.

The 700-foot-long San Gabriel River Bridge is the longest of 24 bridges being built for the project.

Aerial view of the recently completed Santa Anita Ave Bridge structure, Arcadia.

Duarte/City of Hope Station was the first to receive its' canopies.

First light rail tracks are being installed, west of Irwindale.

Soundwalls and rail installation, Duarte.

Operation Campus - Maintenance of Way Canopy and platforms are taking shape.

Six miles of storage tracks & Overhead Catenary System foundations - underway within the Operations Campus.

Structural steel being installed for the Operation Campus main shop building.

Pasted below is the press release announcement from the Construction Authority:

FOOTHILL EXTENSION LIGHT RAIL PROJECT FROM PASADENA TO AZUSA SURPASSES 50% COMPLETION

Award-Winning Measure R Light Rail Project Remains On-Schedule and On-Budget

MONROVIA, CA – The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Construction Authority) announced today that the 11.5-mile Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa is now more than halfway to project completion. When completed, the nearly $1 billion Measure R project will include six new light rail stations with intermodal parking facilities in the cities of Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa; two dozen new and rebuilt bridge structures; 14 at-grade street crossings; 3.6-miles of relocated freight track within a shared corridor with BNSF Railway; and a 24-acre, $265 million Operations Campus to house up to 84 light rail vehicles.

“We were the first Measure R rail project to break ground, and we have stayed on-schedule and on-budget since we began work in 2010,” commented Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian on the milestone. “We still have a significant way to go to substantial completion, but the progress already made provides the confidence that we will be able to meet our schedule and deliver this regionally significant project on time and on budget.”

All three design-build projects have been awarded for the project: (1) the $18.6 million Gold Line Bridge to Skanska USA; (2) the $486 million Pasadena to Azusa Alignment to Foothill Transit Constructors – a Kiewit-Parsons Joint Ventura (FTC); and (3) the $48.7 million Intermodal Parking and Enhancements to Webcor.  The Gold Line Bridge was completed on time and on budget in late 2012, and was recognized in 2013 with five prestigious industry awards for its design and construction.

The largest contract – the $486 million Pasadena to Azusa Alignment – is being designed and built by FTC, and is also on-schedule and on-budget. Since work began in early 2012, FTC has utilized nearly 500,000 work hours on the project and has now surpassed 50% completion. To date, eight at-grade street crossings, 15 bridge structures, 40% of the Operations Campus, and 70% of the utility work has been completed. The freight track between San Gabriel Ave in Azusa and the Glendora city border has been fully realigned to its new position south of the future light rail tracks, more than half of the Overhead Catenary System foundations have been put in place, and light rail track is starting to be installed. Importantly, of the nearly half million work hours completed, none have been lost due to injury.

“The excitement is building, as it becomes more and more apparent that the Gold Line will soon be arriving in these corridor cities,” added Balian. “As each bridge is completed, station canopy installed, or at-grade crossing re-opened following installation of rail improvements, our progress is evident to the community and to our city officials. We appreciate everyone’s patience and cooperation as we build this project.”

Just 18 months from now, the Alignment and Parking contracts will be completed. The Construction Authority anticipates having the Operations Campus ready for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) in March 2015, and the remainder of the project turned over to Metro in September 2015 for testing and pre-revenue service. Metro will decide when the project opens for passenger service.

View a photo gallery of 50% images: www.foothillextension.org/news/media-resources/50-percent-photos/

Here is what the project’s corridor mayors are saying about the 50% project milestone:

“I am extremely impressed as I watch the Gold Line being built in Azusa. Crews are nearly complete with the enormous undertaking of moving miles of freight track into its new position; while also building or rebuilding nine rail bridges and completing new street crossings across the city. Work has recently begun on our two future stations, and soundwalls are now under construction along the length of the rail corridor. I am confident that the project is more than halfway complete in our city, and I applaud the Construction Authority and their contractor for a remarkably smooth job so far. Keep up the good work.”

-          Mayor Joseph Rocha, City of Azusa

“Monrovia residents are patiently accepting the challenges brought by construction, because we all eagerly anticipate the Gold Line arriving in our city. The excitement is certainly building, especially now that we see the Monrovia station and parking facility starting to take shape.  Our city continues to move forward on the plans for our Station Square development, including the largest public works project in our history that will be built up literally around the Monrovia Gold Line station.”

-          Mayor Mary Ann Lutz, City of Monrovia

“Construction of the Gold Line has gone very well in Arcadia, since the project broke ground at Newcastle Park in June 2010. The Gold Line Bridge over the eastbound I-210 Freeway has won awards for its’ unique design and engineering, and the three other rail bridges in the city are also quite impressive. The Construction Authority and their contractor have done an excellent job making sure that the light rail project fits aesthetically into our city so well that I believe it is going to feel like the train never left Arcadia.”

-          Mayor Mickey Segal, City of Arcadia

“The 50% completion of the Gold Line to Duarte marks a triumphant shift in transit options for Duarte residents.  We look forward to 100% completion when we can ride the Gold Line into Pasadena and LA.  The canopy structures are already installed at our beautiful station, and light rail track is being laid just a few hundred feet to the east.  I look forward to celebrating the completion of the Duarte/City of Hope station just a few short months from now.”

-          Mayor Liz Reilly, City of Duarte

“I have watched the Gold Line construction throughout the 11.5-mile corridor over the last year. The work is moving quickly and is already having an impact on the area. With so many workers coming in and out of Irwindale daily, I believe that reaching 50% helps them realize that help is truly on its way. Soon they will be able to utilize the new rail line to get to and from work, and allow our city to grow in new and more sustainable ways.”

-          Mayor Mark A. Breceda, City of Irwindale

###

About the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension - The Foothill Extension is a nearly $2 billion, 24-mile extension of the Metro Gold Line light rail system, being overseen by the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, an independent transportation planning and construction agency. The project is planned in two segments – Pasadena to Azusa and Azusa to Montclair. The Pasadena to Azusa segment is fully funded by Los Angeles County’s Measure R and is on schedule to be completed in September 2015, when it will be turned over to Metro for testing and pre-revenue service. Measure R is funding the majority of the cost associated with the upcoming advanced conceptual engineering and environmental work for the Azusa to Montclair segment (San Bernardino County will fund their portion of the work). The Construction Authority issued a Request for Proposals for this work in January 2014, and anticipates awarding a contract for the 18-month design and environmental work in April. The Construction Authority continues to work with Metro to seek the nearly $1 billion needed to construct the Azusa to Montclair segment.

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February 14th, 2014
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Monrovia Mayor Mary Ann Lutz Says Gold Line’s Arrival Will Change Landscape in State of the City Address

Posted by GoldLine

The following excerpt of Monrovia Mayor Mary Ann Lutz’s State of the City speech appeared in Monrovia Now on February 11, 2014.

40 years ago our City was rebounding. The Age of Redevelopment saw a revitalization of Old Town, the installation of a high-tech corridor, and a focus on creating a safer, more vibrant City.

We balanced retail and development with preservation. We kept our past in mind. And moving forward, it is our responsibility to maintain that balance.

Over the next few years, Monrovia is going to once again enjoy the development of public improvements. Our redevelopment properties are poised for opportunity. Private development is taking off. But there is one thing on all of our minds: GOLD LINE.

This 11.5 mile extension of the light rail system through the San Gabriel Valley will usher in over 1 million riders through Monrovia every month. It creates accessibility to Monrovia we have never had before, and changes the landscape of our town.

But we don’t see those results right now. Right now, we are enduring the inconvenience of construction. Myrtle Avenue is closed, and soon we will see temporary closures at Mountain and Magnolia. Remember, businesses are open here and we encourage you to support them during the construction months.

These temporary constructions zones, however, will lead to long-term benefits for the City. The Metro Gold Line Operations Campus is scheduled to be completed in the Fall of 2015, and the line is turned over to METRO at the end of next year. In fact, just today, Gold Line announced 50% completion of the Foothill extension construction from Pasadena to Azusa.

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February 11th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Rail welding is underway along the I-210 Freeway median.

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February 7th, 2014
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SanBAG gives Gold Line equal priority – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on February 5, 2014.

SanBAG gives Gold Line equal priority – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

By Liset Marquez

February 5, 2014

The San Bernardino Associated Government’s board of directors has agreed to give equal priority to its future rail projects.

This comes after a decision that would have given a low priority to the Gold Line extension to Montclair – postponing funding for several years – was criticized by local area transportation officials.

The board on Wednesday decided not to amend the motion on SanBAG’s rail projects, agreeing to give equal priority to all three items.

It also directed its Commuter Rail and Transit subcommittee to review a proposal from Montclair for $2 million in funding toward the Gold Line. The subcommittee, which will meet Feb. 13, will make its recommendation to the board at its next meeting in March, said Jane Dreher, spokeswoman for SanBAG.

Last month, the Commuter Rail and Transit subcommittee recommended to give the Redlands Passenger Rail Project priority.

Second on the list, the Metrolink San Bernardino Line Capacity Expansion, would add double tracks in portions of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. The plan would be to add tracks near the Upland-Claremont area and then another segment in Fontana near Rancho Cucamonga,

The move would postpone funding to Gold Line-related projects at least until 2016 when additional funds could become available.

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

Posted by GoldLine

Steel continues being erected on the Operations Campus main building.

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January 31st, 2014
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Gold Line extension gets low priority from SanBAG – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on January 24, 2014.

Gold Line extension gets low priority from SanBAG – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

By Liset Marquez

January 24, 2014

A move by a San Bernardino Associated Governments’ subcommittee to give low priority to the Gold Line extension – postponing funding for several years – is drawing criticism.

SanBAG is being short-sighted when it prioritized its rail projects through 2040, postponing Gold Line-related projects at least until 2016 when additional funds could become available, critics say.

Funding is based on the estimated $1.5 billion in revenue available during the span of Measure I, a San Bernardino County sales-tax measure for transportation projects.

The Commuter Rail and Transit subcommittee has agreed to give the Redlands Passenger Rail Project priority, followed by plans to double-track portions of Metrolink. The panel’s recommendation now goes to the SanBAG board for final approval.

Ray Wolfe, the executive director of the transportation planning agency for the county, said setting aside any funds now for the Gold Line would delay projects such as the Redlands Passenger Rail, which is only years away from construction.

“It boils down to an issue of money here in San Bernardino County. We have a limited amount of money that we can use on rail projects,” he said.

Measure I only sets aside 8 percent for rail projects. Annually, the money collected from Measure I for rail projects is between $8 million and $9 million. At that pace, collecting $55 million for the light rail line would take more than six years. But that money also must be shared with a rail project in Redlands.

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority board met this week and were not pleased to learn of SanBAG’s recommendation.

“We believe stalling the process is not good for anybody,” said Ontario Mayor Paul Leon, who is a member of the construction authority board. “We are frustrated, but these kinds of decisions from a committee are specifically pushed by staff.”

Montclair City Manager Edward Starr criticized the agency for being unable to recognize the Gold Line project’s importance not only to his town but the entire county.

“SanBAG should not back down on this,” he said.

It was only less than a year ago that Wolfe spoke to members of the Montclair City Council stating his support for the light rail project.

“It’s almost embarrassing if SanBAG doesn’t stand behind that now,” he said.

But the uncertainty of when funds will become available to bring the light rail line past Azusa is what Wolfe said concerns him about SanBAG investing in the project at this time.

“The board remains committed to bringing the Gold Line to Montclair,” he said, but it’s a question of when.

Funding to bring the light rail beyond Azusa to Claremont has been met with its own hurdles. Construction is underway to extend the Gold Line from east Pasadena to Azusa. The next portion, if approved, would take the route to Claremont and Montclair.

In June, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority came up with its own 30-year list of projects for Measure R sales-tax funding, excluding the Gold Line from the inventory.

Transportation planning officials are waiting to see if Measure R gets extended in 2016 and if the ballot would include the Gold Line extension.

“When I look at prioritizing the numbers of projects, we need to focus on the project that will have the biggest benefit to the tax-paying public and to bring to fruition at the earliest possible time,” Wolfe said.

An environmental report on the light rail phase stretching from Azusa to Montclair projects the cost will be $950 million, but no source of funding has been identified.

The one-mile route from Claremont to Montclair is expected to cost SanBAG $55 million and require $3 million annually to operate and maintain. It will take another $450 million to take it from Montclair to L.A./Ontario International Airport.

Because the project is mainly focused on the West End of the county, Starr said he knows the Gold Line extension coming to Montclair is not a priority for every city in San Bernardino County, but the eventual link to the airport will be key in the future.

“The airport is vital to the economic success to this county and the Gold Line could be effective in bringing air commuters. The Gold Line would serve as an alternative against LAX,” Starr said.

Starr said he would prefer SanBAG at least place the Gold Line project second on the list, to at least give it a chance for funding, considering that the Gold Line Construction Authority is seeking $2 million this year from SanBAG for a preliminary study.

Despite the lack of financial support, Gold Line Construction Authority officials remain committed to bringing it to Claremont, Leon said.

“People in the San Gabriel Valley understand the value of connecting to Ontario airport and are willing to step up and invest more to complete the project as originally intended,” Leon said. “We’re not going to stop. We still have a vision and a goal that we are going to accomplish and SanBAG is going to have to catch up.”

The construction authority agreed to issue a request for organizations to analyze what it will take to extend the Gold Line to ONT.

“The end game, in our lifetime, is for the Gold Line light rail to end at a location in very close proximity to ONT airport,” Leon said. “It’s what makes sense.”

Ultimately, Starr said, SanBAG “does need to stand up to the plate,” and find the funds for the 8-mile, $55 million portion of the Gold Line in San Bernardino County.

Starr said he would even entertain the idea of loaning SanBAG $2 million for the work necessary this year,

As of Thursday, Starr said he was drafting a letter to Wolfe to “at least get a dialogue going between ourselves on how he might approach them on this issue.”

The Redlands Passenger Rail Project, a 9-mile route, would extend Metrolink service from downtown San Bernardino to the University of Redlands as early as 2017.

There would be stops by Esri, one by the Krikorian Redlands Cinema 14 and one at the University of Redlands.

Officials expect to issue a request for proposals for the final design of the project early this year.

When completed, officials expect it will increase ridership on Metrolink’s San Bernardino line by at least 10 percent.

“We’re focusing on projects we can bring to fruition and benefit the traveling public as soon as possible,” Wolfe said.

Second on the list, the Metrolink San Bernardino Line Capacity Expansion, would add double tracks in portions of Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties. The plan would be to add tracks near the Upland-Claremont area and then another segment in Fontana near Rancho Cucamonga, Wolfe said.

SanBAG’s board is expected to review the subcommittee’s prioritization on the rail projects at a meeting Feb. 5.

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January 27th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Earlier this week, FTC finished upgrades to the electrical system at the Sierra Madre Villa Gold Line station and installed new equipment for the future overhead catenary system. The station is now ready for future installation of light rail tracks and final tie-in activities.

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January 24th, 2014
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Gold Line authority approves study on extension to ONT – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on January 23, 2014.

Gold Line authority approves study on extension to ONT – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

By Liset Marquez

January 23, 2014

A request for organizations to analyze whether to extend the Gold Line to LA/Ontario Airport will be sought soon by the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority Board.

The analysis would look at the different forms of transportation the authority may use to transport Gold Line riders to the airport, including identifying routes. The action was approved during a meeting Wednesday night in Monrovia.

In addition, the study would identify other factors, such as how much it would cost to operate and maintain the service as well as forecast ridership.

“The board approved moving forward with the study, they are still very dedicated and committed to getting to ONT airport — at least studying it,” said Lisa Levy Buch, spokeswoman for Gold Line.

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension, overseen by the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, is a $1.7 billion, 24-mile extension of the Metro Gold Line light rail system.

The eight-mile extension from Montclair to ONT is not a formal part of the project, but the construction authority in 2008 conducted an initial study of extending the line. That study found it was feasible to go to the airport.

The construction authority will issue the requests for proposals on March 5. The last day to submit proposals will be April 30 and officials expect to award a contract in June.

Funding for the $1.5 million study will come from the authority’s reserves, but staff will work with other agencies in San Bernardino and Los Angeles counties to be reimbursed.

Ontario mayor and authority board member Paul Leon said despite the lack of the funding support, the authority is committed to the vision.

“We firmly believe if you stop or surrender the process, you are not going to get there. It’s a lot harder to pick something back up then it is to continue with the goal,” Leon said.

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January 24th, 2014
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