Last year, the American Public Transportation Association came out with a comprehensive look at the impacts of public transportation for our nation. In addition to addressing the magnitude of how the country’s expanding transit infrastructure is improving mobility, creating jobs, stimulating the economy (generating $4 dollars from every dollar spent on transit infrastructure), reducing dependence on foreign oil, improving the environment, and more., the study provides the latest answer to the question that is asked over and over when planning a new transit project…
How will building transit near my home (or business) impact my property value?
This is an important question, and below is what APTA’s research found:
The study provides results from all around the country that highlight how proximity to transit boosts real estate values at different levels depending on the type of property (condo, apartment, single-family home, commercial or retail). All types benefit from proximity to transit; however, at varying levels. Read more.
Also discussed in the APTA report are the economic benefits of transit-oriented-developments (TOD) built within ¼ and ½ mile around a hub or station. As with real estate, the study concludes that TOD has been successful throughout the country at increasing opportunities and access, but also creating economic stimulus.
Of course this is good news for the cities and residents along the Foothill Extension corridor, and no real surprise. Just a few years ago, the Authority studied the opportunities along the 24-mile alignment from Pasadena to Montclair and found significant potential for development that was projected to generate tens of billions of dollars in economic development and stimulus. Although the timing of that development may change because of the slowed economy, the opportunities are certainly still available. In fact just a few weeks back we reportedMonrovia and Montclair’s TOD news, which was related to the Foothill Extension’s progress toward those cities.
Learn more about the Authority’s TOD study and its findings, and how we are beginning a new study to review TOD opportunities in today’s economic environment.
A quick word of thanks to the more than 40 stakeholders who came out to last night’s Azusa to Montclair (Phase 2B) scoping meeting in Pomona. We appreciate all of your comments and input! The scoping meetings continue tonight in Glendora and next week in Claremont and San Dimas. Hope to see you there!
With 11 days and counting to the big June 26 groundbreaking event, we took to the streets and spent a few afternoons at the Sierra Madre Villa station with the lifeblood of the Gold Line – the loyal riders that span from all across Los Angeles County. From the average businessman who enjoys using his “train time” to finish his work, to a sweet senior who sees the Gold Line as her tool to fight auto pollution, there was one common theme – there is building excitement for the next phase of the line.
San Gabriel Valley resident, Foothill Extension fan #1, and rail aficionado Bob Davis was kind enough to give an entertaining layman’s rundown of the Foothill Extension (he also gave a history lesson last year) in the video below.
Apparently the station billboard unveilings are happening in reverse-alphabetical order, as Arcadia and Azusa are the two remaining cities to get their station billboard unveiling celebrations (it went like this: Monrovia then Irwindale then Duarte).
Well, the City of Arcadia will be happy tomorrow as they finally get their turn to celebrate the future arrival of the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The event takes place tomorrow (February 10) morning – from 8:00 AM to 9:00 AM (unveiling at 8:30) at Arcadia’s future station site at North First Ave and Santa Clara St, Arcadia, CA 91006. Arcadia’s residents, elected officials, and business leaders will be there, along with the Authority, to celebrate.
See you via light rail at the Santa Anita racetracks in a few years!
If you’re a resident along the Foothill Extension corridor, 2009 was the year of the Gold Line. As you recall, voters ended 2008 with overwhelming support for Measure R and 2009 began with the communities throughout the County celebrating that victory and working together to plan for our united future. Many thanks here go out to the San Gabriel Valley voters who pitched in the votes needed to pass the required two-thirds mark for Measure R, allocating a minimum of $735 million for the Foothill Extension.
Here we look at the highlights of 2009, which culminated in securing $851 million for the project, and plans to break ground in June 2010!
Revival of the I Will Ride Movement
Don’t call it a comeback. We’ve been here for years.
I Will Ride was formed in 2008 under the direction of students from colleges across the San Gabriel Valley, and in the beginning of this year it was handed over to the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority to continue their work. Hence, this blog. The unmistakable gold shirts started spreading its way throughout the San Gabriel Valley once again – onto college campuses, community events, and large business centers. Then we had a rally. Then we started showing up to the Metro Board meetings. Somewhere along the way, Bob Davis started an unofficial groundbreaking at the Gold Line’s Arcadia tracks. We showed up to a few more Metro Board meetings.
Metro Welcomes New Chief Art Leahy; Metro Board Welcomes New Chairman Ara Najarian
All eyes were on Art Leahy as he took over as the new boss at Metro in April of this year. While his rise to the top made quite the story for many newspapers (former bus driver, from family of transit operators, fulfills destiny by returning home to run Metro), the San Gabriel Valley looked on with cautious optimism that he could smooth out the regional bickering that had gone on for too long. Meanwhile, in the middle of the intense Long Range Transportation Plan (LRTP) debates, we saw Ara Najarian take the Chairman post on the Metro Board.
What was evident was that Art Leahy and Ara Najarian seemed intent on changing the tone of the agency and Board as they hammered out arguably the most important transportation plan for our county’s future. Only a month after starting his job as CEO of Metro, Art attended and spoke at the San Gabriel Valley’s Measure R and Economic Recovery Forum, where he laid out the importance and priority of the Foothill Extension for his agency. Metro “was duty bound, honor bound, to do the project,” said Art to the San Gabriel Valley legislative leaders and community members. He had also acknowledged the rift that existed between regions across Los Angeles County and pledged to the audience that he would build a consensus when working on the LRTP.
In a testament to Ara Najarian’s own efforts to build a consensus among the regions, it should be pointed out that he came in as Chairman of the Metro Board at a time when residents were losing patience and the Board had enough votes to pass the LRTP. Rather than hurrying up and ending it all with a simple majority vote, he decided to delay the approval of the long range plan until he could secure unanimous approval from the entire Board of Directors. In several public appearances in the San Gabriel Valley, he has not been shy to state his support for the Foothill Extension and his desire to see the project break ground while he is Chairman of the Metro Board.
Fast forward to today and we’re seeing the fruits of Mr. Leahy and Mr. Najarian’s labor. The LRTP passed with unanimous approval by the 13-member Metro Board of Directors in October – securing the funding ($851 million) for the Foothill Extension and commitment from Metro to find other sources of funds to finish the line to Claremont. The Board also unanimously committed to operate the next two segments (Pasadena to Azusa and Glendora to Montclair) when construction is completed. This was a huge victory for the project, the San Gabriel Valley voters and I Will Ride supporters.
Iconic Bridge Gives San Gabriel Valley and Foothill Extension a Spotlight
Show me another area in Los Angeles County with transit architecture that doesn’t resemble your old plain structures – that’s right, you can’t.
Below are two designs that, for many obvious reasons, didn’t make the final cut. Guess which one I would have picked. (Hint: the one on the right)
Infamous Federal Funding Map, Congressional Letter Sets Transit World Ablaze
The future wasn’t looking so bright for our county when Metro staff presented a federal transit funding map that painted a very bleak funding picture for our region in comparison to much smaller and less populous cities across the country. If you’re a Los Angeles County resident, it’s probably safe to say you were up in arms over the thought of cities with 1/10th our county’s population receiving ten times more funds from the federal government. In response, Metro staff picked the Subway to the Sea and Regional Connector as the projects they would apply for to receive federal money in as little as three years. Then came the mother of all responses.
Fourteen Congress members signed and sent a letter to the Metro Board of Directors – urging them to consider a different federal funding strategy than the one they had just approved. Their reasoning? A more inclusive strategy that includes shovel-ready projects like the Foothill Extension would make it more likely that our county doesn’t get left behind with a huge gap in federal funding in future years. The letter hit home for many on the Metro Board, who unanimously revised staff’s recommendation to make other projects – such as the Foothill Extension – priorities for the agency to seek federal funds.
2009 Ends with State of the Project Workshops
Two weeks ago, more than 150 guests – including Congress members Judy Chu, Adam Schiff, and David Dreier, and state and local legislators – came out to Glendora to celebrate a job well done on the effort to get funding for the extension and to hear Authority staff give status updates on their progress. Those present were also able to attend workshops on the iconic freeway structure design and the success of the art used on the Union Station to Pasadena phase of the Gold Line.
The lunch portion was highlighted by keynote speeches from our Congressional representatives and, while it was a reflection on past successes, it was a reminder of the job that still lies ahead – starting with the effort to get that groundbreaking going in June 2010. Speaking of the word job, our federal elected officials emphasized that, with construction jobs at an all-time low in our county and a still-hurting economy, the groundbreaking represents an opportunity to get people working again. Let’s all hope this opportunity becomes a much-need reality by the middle of next year. And to keep a positive tone going forward, Congressman Adam Schiff gave a few words to the crowd. Adam Schiff, who championed the original Gold Line as a State Senator back then, put on his best inspirational speaker hat and told the audience that, in their current battle for the Foothill Extension, if they ever got discouraged, they should look at the past struggles of the first Gold Line and how it eventually became a success.
And about that schedule. The Authority has a roadmap to get the Foothill Extension to Azusa up and running by 2013. All this begins with the much anticipated groundbreaking in June. A few meetings with Metro in January will determine the feasibility of this schedule, so here’s to hoping for some more positive news.
Misc – Year End Awards
Call of Duty Award: Citrus College Owl mascot – for braving over 100-plus-degree weather in an owl suit (in the sun) for the sake of rallying supporters at the Citrus College rally. Show me a more brave mascot and I’ll show you a phony.
Tony Robbins Award: San Gabriel Valley resident Bob Davis – for taking initiative and starting his own groundbreaking a year before the proposed official groundbreaking. You will not find a bigger supporter of the Foothill Extension. Thank you Bob.
Parallel Universe with Office Supply Shortage Award: City of Hope employees – for going through 25 boxes of Foothill Extension supporter pens in a span of 3 hours when we showed up at the Fall Benefits Fair at the City of Hope campus. We normally have a hard time giving away one pen at most I Will Ride booths.
It’s a good time to be a transit advocate who also likes public celebrations. While the Gold Line Eastside Extension is celebrating its first day of service this Sunday, another Gold Line extension is also taking the time to highlight a brighter transit future for its corridor residents: the Foothill Extension!
The Foothill Extension is celebrating last month’s triumph by unveiling the first of six station signs at the future Monrovia station site next Saturday. There will be food and activities for the entire family, and everyone is welcome.
We’re encouraging you to join us for the celebration – which will take place on November 21, 2009, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM at the Historic Santa Fe Train Depot in Monrovia, CA. In addition to residents joining in on the fun, the San Gabriel Valley delegation of elected officials will also be in attendance. Members of Congress, the State Assembly, the County Board of Supervisors, and local City Council offices are confirmed to attend. The unveiling ceremony will start at 10:20 AM sharp, so don’t be late!
Good Times Are Rolling
Not a week has gone by since the approval of the LRTP in October without a congratulatory piece appearing in the local papers – the latest of which can sum up how the San Gabriel Valley happily feels about the prospects of a light-rail line coming into the region. The Pasadena Star-News editorial board recently took the time to thank the elected officials who had fought tooth-and-nail for the Foothill Extension over the past few years, the Metro Board of Directors for showing a commitment to the Foothill Extension, and the City of Monrovia for (lack of a better term) taking one for the team in order to see the line a reality in 2013.
In addition, the paper reminds readers just how important last month’s LRTP vote was for the region:
This project, now funded east from Pasadena to the Azusa/Citrus College station, will begin creating positive economic waves in terms of contracts and jobs beginning now through its completion in 2013.
By extending the Gold Line light-rail tracks from east Pasadena at Sierra Madre Villa Street to Azusa, and then, eventually, to Montclair and maybe even to Ontario International Airport, it will remove many commuters from cars, put them into trains and thereby relieve congestion on the traffic-choked Foothill (210) Freeway. The light-rail system will finally reach east San Gabriel Valley and eventually Inland Empire residents – precisely the neighborhoods where people drive long distances to and from jobs in Pasadena, Glendale/Burbank and Los Angeles. By adding choices for commuters, it will speed up travel and reduce air pollution.
Amidst a flurry of editorials, stern lectures from Congressional representatives (as well as State legislators), and staged protests from bus riders in front of Metro headquarters, the Metro Board of Directors came in yesterday with their game faces on and with the intent of passing the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan. After we pointed out during our live-tweet that the Board room computers were running the archaic Windows 98 operating system, just as the Directors were lining up to vote on the LRTP – the computers crashed. That didn’t stop them as the Board went the old-school roll call route and voted unanimously to pass the 30-year Long Range Transportation Plan.
But considering it took until 2 PM to cast the vote (the meeting started around 10 AM), there was a lot that happened before the Board was able to arrive at that point.
Largest Contingency of Foothill Extension Supporters (this year) Show Up
Not to be outdone by bus supporters (three of them dressed in devil costumes) who filled up three long rows worth of seats, more than 100 supporters – ranging from elected officials to community leaders to residents and students – from the San Gabriel Valley made the trek to Metro headquarters to make one last stand for the Foothill Extension. If you live in a city along the 210 freeway up to Ontario, you were represented.
The San Gabriel Valley delegation of federal, state, and local legislators took to the stand first for public comment on the LRTP. Seeking to carry the momentum from the bipartisan Congressional letter that was made public a few days ago, the federal and state legislators reiterated concerns that Los Angeles County stood to lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars over the next few years if the Board did not expand their federal funding strategy to include the Foothill Extension (Azusa to Montclair), Crenshaw corridor, and Eastside Extension Phase II projects. Representatives of state legislators Anthony Portantino, Carol Liu, and Gloria Romero reminded the Board that the voters who approved Measure R made it clear they wanted projects to move into construction as soon as possible – a criteria that the Foothill Extension was more than qualified for. A letter signed by eight state elected officials was also submitted to the Board in support of a more inclusive funding strategy.
If you read yesterday morning’s Los Angeles Times editorial take on the federal funding drama, you might have been surprised (at least I was) to read the Times’ claim that the federal government rarely funds more than one project at the same time. Not letting this tidbit get by them, a bipartisan Congressional delegation of representatives on behalf of David Dreier, Adam Schiff, Judy Chu, Grace Napolitano, Joe Baca, and others responded during public comment that, despite the editorial’s claims, it was not uncommon to have several projects funded by the federal New Starts program at the same time. If you go back to the infamous signed letter from a few days ago, it actually lists examples of this happening.
The local delegation (pictured right) was led by Glendora City Councilman Doug Tessitor, Duarte City Councilwoman Lois Gaston, Monrovia Mayor Mary Ann Lutz, and Monrovia City Councilman Joe Garcia. The most interesting comments from the local delegation came from the Monrovia representatives, who – like we previously reported – reminded the Board that the city of Monrovia has the land and resources necessary for the much-needed rail maintenance facility, but the city will only commit as a partner to this yard if Metro agrees to operate the Foothill Extension (to Azusa in 2013). To show how serious they were, Mary Ann Lutz stated that the city prefers not to have the yard, but they are willing to host it in return for the Foothill Extension.
Speaking of local elected officials, county-uniter and West Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosendahl stated in his public comment his support for the Congressional letter and the idea of including more projects in Metro’s federal strategy.
Board Responds to Congressional Letter
With the bipartisan Congressional letter having taken the transit news circles by storm, there was no way the Metro Board was going to ignore it.
In the Chair’s report, Ara Najarian talked about going to Washington in an attempt to lay the groundwork for federal funding for the Subway and Regional Connector. After feeling like he had accomplished something, he was blindsided and put on the defensive when the Congressional letter surfaced. In response to the letter, Najarian stated that Metro had not done a good job of briefing our federal representatives on their local strategy – that there were details that our members of Congress were not aware of. In the end, Najarian’s message was simple: let’s all get our act together.
Ridley-Thomas, Antonovich, Fasana, and Molina Stand Up for Regional Equity
When it was the Metro Board’s turn to discuss the LRTP prior to their vote, much of the lengthy debate had centered around a motion drafted by Board members Mark Ridley-Thomas, Gloria Molina, Michael Antonovich, and John Fasana. Without going into the details of the debate (in which Ridley-Thomas, Antonovich, Fasana, and Molina argued for regional equity until the very end), the motion eventually was included as an amendment in the final LRTP, which helped ease most of the concerns about the Foothill Extension’s future. So here’s what’s in for the San Gabriel Valley.
Pasadena to Azusa Phase Will Operate Earlier if Construction Finishes Earlier
With $851 million allocated for the first phase of the Foothill Extension in the prior draft of the LRTP, the lingering concern was the operational date set by Metro for 2017 – which meant the line would run almost 4 years after the expected completion in 2013. While not placing into writing an operational date of 2013, the amendment to the LRTP requires that Metro operate the line if the Construction Authority can complete it before 2017. Let’s see what happens.
Funding for Phase to Claremont
The amendment also instructs Metro staff to determine non-New Starts sources of funding for the Foothill Extension phase to Claremont and Crenshaw line. The second phase of the Foothill Extension needs approximately $320 million to complete construction. Metro Chair Ara Najarian mentioned a few weeks ago that the Foothill Extension could receive bits of federal assistance through the HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and EPA departments. Maybe those?
In addition, like the first phase, Metro is required to commit to operating the line as soon as it is built.
So, let’s get to that groundbreaking in June, shall we?
Metro kid: We did it!
San Gabriel Valley: Not so fast Metro kid.
You’ve seen these four words tossed around quite a bit: Long Range Transportation Plan, or LRTP for short. It is the grand-daddy of transportation plans in Los Angeles County. It sets on paper what, how, and when transit projects can be funded – of which the Metro Board can change with a majority vote. This lone document has fueled more articles on this blog than any other transit topic or issue (federal funding will take the crown after a few more months). With the exception of the Bus Riders Union and bike advocates, probably no other group has agonized more over the details of the LRTP than the supporters of the Foothill Extension – and for good reason.
9 Months Ago
Since the draft LRTP was reintroduced into the transit news circles by Metro staff in January, many things have changed for the better for the San Gabriel Valley in this plan. However, the path wasn’t without a few heartaches in the beginning and along the way.
That LRTP in January was a carryover from 2008 – when the Metro Board held off on a vote to approve the plan to give Los Angeles County voters a chance to pass the half-cent sales tax increase that was Measure R last November. Measure R passed (look no further for proof than the sales tax on your receipt), and when the LRTP was given an “update” in a January Metro staff report, it still excluded the Foothill Extension (to Azusa) from initial funding despite it being the only proposed Measure R light-rail project that was ready for construction. The Foothill Extension Construction Authority, San Gabriel Valley residents, businesses, elected officials, newspapers, students, and everyone else in between took issue with it – also giving birth to this blog. To make a long story short, through a combined effort on all levels from the San Gabriel Valley, Metro revised the LRTP to include $875 million for the first phase of the Foothill Extension to Azusa. Yay?
Hold Off That Celebration
Metro recently released their final draft of the 2009 LRTP, and, besides the new plan shaving off $24 million for the Extension (bringing funding to $851 million), not much has changed since the Extension was included for funding back in June. The operations date for the Foothill Extension to Azusa is still set for 2017 in the plan. With the groundbreaking most likely happening next year, the construction of the first phase can be finished and the line can be ready in 2013. Let’s not wait 4 years after the line has been completed to operate the thing.
Looking past the stop at Azusa, many other cities are still waiting for their portion of the Foothill Extension to be funded. The recent debate over federal funding has become a big issue because of Metro’s decision to back only two projects for federal money: the Subway to the Sea and Regional Connector. Now let us repeat that these are two very important transit projects that should receive help from Washington. However, like we have pointed out before, our county stands to lose out on hundreds of millions of dollars because of an unrealistic (most likely unachievable) timeframe Metro has put in place for the Subway and Regional Connector to qualify for federal money. And like Congresswoman Judy Chu’s office has pointed out, the second phase of the Foothill Extension to Montclair is in a much better position to receive federal funding much sooner – without impacting the Subway and Regional Connector’s chances at federal funding when these two projects finally do qualify.
Like Metro Board Chair Ara Najarian stated, we need to be unified in order to sell our transit projects to Washington. In order for our delegation to the federal government to become unified, we cannot close the doors on projects that are eligible for federal funding.
The Metro Board Planning and Programming Committee will meet on Wednesday, October 14, 1:00 PM at the Metro building to consider the LRTP. Then, assuming nothing out of the ordinary happens at the meeting, the LRTP moves to the Metro Board of Directors for a final vote. Yes, after a few false jump-the-gun moments in the past months, the Metro Board of Directors (we’re assuming) will finally vote on the 2009 Long Range Transportation Plan – 3 months after Measure R’s half-cent sales tax increase had kicked in.
For more information on the meeting, and if you’d like to attend, visit our Act Now page.
Update: though we were able to obtain the LRTP documents ourselves, the direct link on Metro’s website don’t seem to be working. If you think you might have better luck, you can check out the Planning and Programming Committee agenda and click on the links in Item 10 for the LRTP.
Those words up there weren’t just thrown together in an attempt to create some mental association of jobs, family, and happy riders with the Gold Line Foothill Extension (even though most rational people would come up with those associations themselves). Actually, those words represent the hope of a Pomona resident in a letter to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune:
Letters to the editor: A happy rider
I am awaiting the completion of the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Montclair as it will help me find a job out of my geographic range.
As of July 2, I became unemployed and I if the Gold Line was up and running, it would extend my job search and I will ride it!
Also, my tweens can ride it to their grandparents’ home. The sooner it is completed, the sooner I will get a job and the kids can visit grandparents.
Let’s get it completed, and make everyone a happy rider! Do not delay any longer. Happy times await everyone!
Doug Tessitor, City Councilman for the City of Glendora, talks about his city’s excitement and anxious wait over the arrival of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension, the transit-oriented development plans awaiting the extension, why Glendora’s residents need the Foothill Extension, and a message for the Metro Board.
“I ride the existing Gold Line everyday to work and any time I need to go to downtown L.A. The dream is to be able to use the train the whole way to and from work (and play). We can be so much better with the line extended!”
“I look forward to using the Gold Line to commute to the Westside. Everyone I talk to says they will use it.”
“Please stop ignoring a ‘shovel ready’ project!
We have to drive to the end of the line, but enjoy using the Gold Line to go into L.A. Parking is a problem as so many IE (Inland Empire) people drive and ride. It will be great when it’s out in our own community. We would use it to go to Pasadena!”