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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

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.

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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 Source

Posted 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

Click above to see larger.
Click above to see larger.

IMG_20140521_105020_591 (1)
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).

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaking at the signing this morning in Washington D.C.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti speaking at the signing this morning in Washington D.C.

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.

Metro Board Member Pam O'Connor and Metro CEO Art Leahy at this morning's signing ceremony. Metro Board Member Pam O’Connor and Metro CEO Art Leahy at this morning’s signing ceremony.

“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.

Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky signing the funding deal this morning in D.C. Metro Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky signing the funding deal this morning in D.C.

“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.

About Metro

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.netfacebook.com/losangelesmetro,twitter.com/metrolosangeles and twitter.com/metroLAalerts andinstagram.com/metrolosangeles.

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May 22nd, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Work is currently underway on the last three (of 14) at-grade crossings, with crews having begun construction on Mountain Ave this week.

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May 16th, 2014
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Column: Daily commute is awful — but there’s hope – Pasadena Star-News

Posted by GoldLine

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.

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May 15th, 2014
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New video infomercials place San Gabriel Valley in middle of transportation funding battle – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Posted 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.

——————————–
Sustainable Communities

Congestion & Air Quality

Alternative Transportation Models

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May 12th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Construction of the Arcadia Gold Line station parking structure progresses upward as crews recently began work on the second story.

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May 9th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Walls are starting to go up at the Gold Line Operations Campus.

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May 2nd, 2014
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Gold Line Station Artist Spotlight Videos

Posted by GoldLine

As each of the six new Gold Line light rail stations begin to take shape, the station artists are hard at work behind the scenes preparing the artwork that will make each station unique. Each artist, selected by their station city based on their experience and concept, is developing artwork that will represent the history and culture of their station’s surroundings and community. In the videos below, you will get to know each station artist, along with the stories behind their station art concepts.

Click each video below to play, or visit the Construction Authority YouTube channel at https://www.youtube.com/user/goldlineblogger

Arcadia Station Artist: Michael Davis

Monrovia Station Artist: Cha-Rie Tang

Duarte/City of Hope Station Artists: Andrea Myklebust & Stanton Sears

Irwindale Station Artist: Robin Brailsford

Azusa Downtown Station Artist: Jose Antonio Aguirre

APU/Citrus College Station Artist: Lynn Goodpasture

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April 29th, 2014
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Construction Update and Picture of the Week

Posted by GoldLine

Track installation has begun on the Gold Line Bridge over the I-210 Freeway.

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April 25th, 2014
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Gold Line being challenged on possible terminus at Ontario Airport – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

Posted by GoldLine

The following article appeared in the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin on April 21, 2014.

Gold Line being challenged on possible terminus at Ontario Airport – Inland Valley Daily Bulletin

By Steve Scauzillo

April 21, 2014

The little engine that could — the independent L.A.-to-Pasadena Gold Line construction agency — has battled larger interests in western Los Angeles for funding and sometimes for its very existence for decades.

Now, the San Gabriel Valley’s light-rail building entity is encountering resistance from the East.

A key bill that would allow the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority to extend the rail line across the county border to Ontario International Airport is being opposed by one of its allies, the San Bernardino Associated Governments. The opposition threatens the vision to link downtown L.A. and Pasadena to an airport by rail, a first in Southern California.

Without passage of enabling legislation from Pomona Assembly Democrat Freddie Rodriguez, the authority will have to stop planning a leg to the airport.

“We need authority to do work beyond our jurisdiction,” said Habib Balian, chief executive officer with the Gold Line Authority.

SanBAG’s board voted earlier this month to oppose the bill, A.B. 2574, saying it jumps the gun by promoting a particular rail option to the airport before the agency has had a chance to study other options.

The San Bernardino County planning agency said it is looking at “30 alternatives which could connect transit to Ontario International Airport.” The agency also objected because it was not consulted and said it could impose “uncontrolled expenditures” on the agency.

The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority may also oppose the measure. Its board is scheduled to discuss the bill Thursday.

Rodriguez, despite opposition from San Bernardino cities, has not withdrawn the bill. It goes before the Assembly Transportation Committee on Monday.

“We want to keep the project moving forward,” said Rodriguez aide Francisco Estrada. “He believes in the vision of taking the Gold Line all the way to the airport.”

The Gold Line construction authority’s board is scheduled to vote on sponsorship of the bill on Wednesday. Its legislative committee recommended support of the Rodriguez bill.

The first extension of the foothill line is more than halfway completed. It will extend rail service from the Sierra Madre Villa station in east Pasadena to the second Azusa station at Citrus College. That extension will open at the end of 2015 or in early 2016.

A Phase 2b would continue east 12 miles through Glendora, La Verne, Pomona, San Dimas and Montclair. And a Phase 2c would continue through Upland, possibly stopping in Rancho Cucamonga before turning south and ending at Ontario Airport.

“There has been a long-held view that the connection to the airport would serve the San Gabriel Valley,” Balian said. He said a decline in Ontario Airport passengers recently was related to the recession and that the airport is and will remain viable.

Neither Phase 2b or 2c have any funding, Balian said.

But he said the Gold Line Construction authority has teamed up with SanBAG in the past to do a preliminary feasibility study that was released in 2008. Now, the Gold Line authority needs the OK from the state Legislature to work on a preliminary alternatives study, which would cost about $2 million, he said, and require funding from the airport.

The study will look at potential routes and environmental issues. “The foundation of the environmental work would start with this analysis,” he said.

Although SanBAG’s staff report says the bill is premature, Balian disagreed. He said planning for a light-rail extension can often take eight to 10 years before construction could begin.

“You want to start early enough,” he said.

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April 22nd, 2014
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