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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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Metro Gold Line work to close Myrtle Avenue for four months – Pasadena Star-News

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the Pasadena Star-News on January 18, 2014.

Metro Gold Line work to close Myrtle Avenue for four months – Pasadena Star-News

By Sarah Favot

January 18, 2014

MONROVIA >> Amid the potential headache of construction detours, businesses are gearing up for the four-month closure of Myrtle Avenue at the railroad crossing north of Duarte Road, and hope customers will continue to patronize their stores.

The closure, which begins Monday, is part of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension light rail project, which will extend the Gold Line 11.5 miles from Pasadena to Azusa. It is the first significant closure caused by Gold Line construction in Monrovia that has a direct impact on businesses, according to Mayor Mary Ann Lutz.

“It’s going to impact the businesses,” said Lutz.

Brenda Trainor, co-owner of Wonder Dog Ranch, which is south of Duarte Road, said she wished she knew about the closure several months in advance so she could have better prepared.

The Gold Line has provided custom-made maps to give to customers explaining the detour, she said.

“I think my current customers are going to figure it out and not have any problem with it,” Trainor said. “Where I expect there to be more of a challenge is for those customers that have never been here before.”

Attracting new customers is important, Trainor said, as the dog day care and boarding business is only a year old.

Trainor said she had advertised that the ranch had easy access from the 210 Freeway.

“It’s not so easy access now,” she said.

Espy Fajardo, a manager at The Wizard of Bras, which is north of the closure, said she’s worried potential customers will avoid the area because of the detour.

“One (concern) is that our business is going to go down because people aren’t going to go around,” she said.

The closure will last through May, according to the Gold Line construction authority.

Duarte Road will remain open. Pedestrians will have access through Myrtle Avenue on one side of the street.

Both Trainor and Lutz praised Gold Line officials for communicating with the city and the affected businesses.

“We’ve been helping businesses as much as possible,” said Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority spokesman Albert Ho.

Pam Fitzpatrick, who owns two businesses in Old Town, said while business owners in Old Town, further north on Myrtle Avenue, won’t be directly affected, she is concerned about the length of construction and potential frustrations. She said the closure has sparked a discussion between business owners in Old Town and further south down Myrtle.

“We’re already talking about ways to help each other out, and we’re determined to make a good batch of lemonade out of this closure,” she said.

Lutz said while the community in the short term has to deal with road closures and detours, in the end it’ll be worth it because the Gold Line will be brought into the city.

“We’re going to weather the construction storm for the next year and a half and hopefully it’ll all work out and the businesses will be OK and will be made whole, so to speak,” she said.

Trainor, too, said the construction headache will pay off.

“It’s an inconvenience, it’s a rerouting, but quite frankly, it’s worth it to get the Gold Line into town,” Trainor said.

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

Posted by GoldLine

California Ave in Monrovia reopened this week, following completion of grade crossing improvements as well as intersection improvements.

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January 17th, 2014
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Editorial: Planning for traffic crush around ONT is more than just wishful thinking – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Posted by GoldLine

The following Editorial appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on January 15, 2014.

Editorial: Planning for traffic crush around ONT is more than just wishful thinking – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

January 15, 2014

Does it seem ironic that officials are worrying about how to keep future vehicle congestion in check on the roadways around L.A./Ontario International Airport?

Undoubtedly.

Is it important to give serious consideration now to what vehicle traffic might be like around the airport in 2030, and to figure out how to avoid gridlock on the roads leading there?

Absolutely.

Sure, it’s a bit odd to be concerned about excessive roadway traffic around ONT when local officials are wringing their hands over the airport’s withering away in terms of its airline passenger traffic.

Certainly there’s no sign of car traffic jams around the airport these days. You can whiz down Airport Drive just about anytime, or even along the roadways leading to the terminals, without having to slow down for anything other than the speed limit.

There’s still hope the airport can be rescued from the downward spiral in which it has lost more than 40 percent of its 2007 passenger count of 7.2 million. The idea that it might reach 30 million by 2030, as predicted in a pre-recession study, seems far-fetched now, but it could happen — if not in 2030, then someday.

In any event, planning ways to connect mass transit to the airport is important. It’s dumb that L.A.’s Metro rail lines don’t reach LAX; it would be smart to connect the Gold Line Foothill Extension to ONT.

International travelers are dumbfounded that you can’t jump on a train at LAX. From Paris’ Charles de Gaulle International Airport, or even from Orly, the City of Light’s second airport, you can jump on an RER train bound for the city center. You can take the London Underground from Heathrow International Airport to anywhere in the city.

Not that Ontario will ever rival those world cities, but L.A. ought to.

And not only should ONT eventually be a Gold Line stop, but before that can happen there should be regular shuttle service to the airport from the San Bernardino and Riverside lines of Metrolink, which pass a bit north and just south, respectively, of ONT.

Southern California authorities are building more miles of commuter rail lines all the time. It’s up to Los Angeles World Airports and regional transportation officials to figure out how to connect them to our airports.

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January 16th, 2014
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