Doug Tessitor: Gold Line transports gold to region – SGV Tribune

The following Op-Ed appears in the Tuesday, December 13, 2011 edition of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

FROM the Rose Bowl to the Fairplex, the San Gabriel Valley is home to public venues and projects that create jobs and generate much-needed economic activity for the entire LA region.

With the recent approval of a distinctive final design for a Gold Line bridge over the 210 Freeway, another of these job-generating projects will soon be visible to the public and will provide a new “Gateway to the San Gabriel Valley.”

The $18.6 million bridge, which is already under construction and providing jobs, will feature columns designed to resemble American Indian baskets in recognition of the region’s original inhabitants and the important role they played in the San Gabriel Valley’s development.

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency responsible for the Gold Line’s planning and construction, sponsored an international competition and chose award-winning public artist Andrew Leicester to envision this unique structure to welcome travelers to the San Gabriel Valley.

Caltrans’ and the Construction Authority’s approval of the final design is a significant milestone in one of the region’s largest and most important transit projects – the $735 million extension of the Metro Gold Line light rail line from Pasadena to Azusa. This is the first of two approximately 12-mile extensions that will ultimately connect Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire along the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley.

The current construction project is expected to generate nearly 7,000 new jobs (2,600 in construction) and $1 billion in economic output for the region during its four-year construction period, according to the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp.

Using a design-build approach, the Construction Authority is moving forward faster than would otherwise be possible. Under this approach, for instance, construction of the 210 Gold Line bridge began months ahead of the of the final design’s approval.

By using design-build contracting, the Construction Authority is creating jobs when they are most needed and keeping the Measure R-funded rail project on schedule. Approved by two-thirds of Los Angeles County voters in November 2008, Measure R initiated a half-cent sales tax increase to upgrade the region’s transportation system including the Foothill Extension projects.

Long before the voters spoke, the Construction Authority had already completed the first segment of the Gold Line from Los Angeles to Pasadena on time and under budget. That 13.7-mile section opened to the public in 2003, and monthly boardings on the Gold Line have continually increased, now reaching nearly 40,000 average weekday boardings.

The Legislature created the Construction Authority in 1998 for one purpose – to extend rail transit along the foothills. As leaders of the Construction Authority, we have been single-minded in our pursuit of that goal.

Working together with our elected leaders, state and federal officials, local communities and residents throughout the region, we have continued to move the project forward this year with the final 210 Freeway bridge design approval and the launch of construction.

As we near the end of 2011, we are on track to complete the light rail extension to Azusa in 2015, and are focused on readying the next 12-mile segment for construction – easing traffic woes and helping to ensure a healthier and more prosperous future for all who live, work and visit Los Angeles County.

Doug Tessitor is the Construction Authority board chairman and the mayor of Glendora.

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