Foothill Gold Line rail line construction done, Metro to prepare for riders – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on September 23, 2015.

Foothill Gold Line rail line construction done, Metro to prepare for riders – San Gabriel Valley Tribune


Kevin Haboian, Senior V.P. Parsons, left, Matt Scott, Senior V.P. and Habib Balian, CEO Foothill Gold Line pose for a photo after signing documents certifying substantial completion of the Foothill Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa at a press conference in Monrovia Wednesday. Photo from San Gabriel Valley Tribune.

By Steve Scauzillo

September 23, 2015

MONROVIA >> When Habib Balian signed the documents certifying substantial completion of the $1 billion Foothill Gold Line extension Wednesday, he glanced at partners from Kiewit Infrastructure West and Parsons Transportation Group, reminding them the pens were not theirs to keep.

The CEO of the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority made the lighthearted remark as cameras recorded the historic day for the five-year project, which extends theLos Angeles-to-Pasadena light-rail line from east Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border at Citrus College and Azusa Pacific University. Indeed, it was Balian who rode the contractors hard to keep the project within a tight budget and on schedule, putting the Sept. 23 completion date on its website more than a year in advance.

“I’m most proud of the fact that we are on time and on budget. That says a lot,” said a beaming Balian, after certifying the 11.5-mile extension was ready for use by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro).

At 1 p.m., Balian’s agency transmitted the paperwork to Metro, officially turning over the project to its future operators. Metro Chief Executive Officer Phil Washington said he would announce when passenger service would begin 30 days after the turnover. Balian said Metro has estimated passenger service would start sometime in the spring.

In a written statement, Metro says it must complete training of train operators and emergency responders before the line can be opened.

Last year some wondered if Metro would get enough rail cars from Kinkisharyo International in Palmdale to run the extension, but Balian indicated no roadblocks exist today. Many of those cars have arrived and have been doing test runs since mid-December.

“There are no indications there will be a delay,” he said. “They are interested in taking control of the project and putting it into operation.”

The extension runs through Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa. The first contract was in June 2010 to build a railroad bridge over the 210 Freeway near Santa Anita Avenue. The bridge was completed in 2012. The parking structures and lots at each station were finished in late August.

The final, $515 million alignment contract was completed Wednesday and includes laying 29 miles of light-rail track, a 24-acre operations and maintenance campus in Monrovia, dozens of bridges, 14 street crossings and six stations.

Balian said he expects the new line to easily meet projections of 13,600 daily riders. He believes many drivers of the increasingly jammed 210 Freeway are looking to ditch their cars to get to Pasadena or Los Angeles.

“Folks need to get out of their cars. There are riders on the 210 in the San Gabriel Valley who we believe can now have another option,” he said.

The Gold Line Foothill extension is the first project funded by 2008’s Measure R sales tax to be completed. The Expo Line Phase 2 from Culver City to Santa Monica will be turned over to Metro in late October or early November, said Gabby Collins, spokesperson. It may open around the same time as the Foothill Gold Line.

About $50 million was left over from Measure R’s allocation, allowing Balian to begin engineering and design work on Phase 2B, from Azusa to Montclair. He’s hoping that project gets construction money from the next county transportation tax, dubbed Measure RX.

“We will be the first project shovel-ready,” he said.

Claremont Councilman Sam Pedroza, who attended the signing, says events like this, plus the recent station dedications in Irwindale, Azusa, with two stations, Monrovia, Arcadia and Duarte/City of Hope will keep Metro and the public aware the line should reach the Inland Empire.

“This starts the momentum moving for the next phase,” he said.


  1. Harold Leacock says:

    I would like to know that in the past it was a lot shorter duration between times of completion of a project til the operation of a service to start. I think the waiting time is to long. Look at all the revenue your missing this holiday season, shame on the people holding up those that voted for the service to start.

  2. Harold Leacock says:

    I did get to ride the new section of track from Azusa to Sierra Madre Villa this past weekend, and the ride was beautiful, but when are you going to finish the next and final section to Montclair. This is where the crowd is thank you. By the way how come you built the parking lot so small at Azusa APU, it’s a shame.

    • Albert says:

      Hi Harold,

      Metro has posted a response to concerns they have received about parking and other issues related to the opening of the Gold Line on their blog. Here is the part of the post about parking:

      “As for the issue of parking, there are more than 1,500 parking spaces at the six new stations. The cost of building the parking at the six stations was about $48 million. Included in the $48 million was about one million dollars for each of the six new stations to enhance walking, biking and bus connections.

      It’s not surprising that the most complaints thus far centered on the APU/Citrus College garage since that’s the new terminus of the Gold Line. Metro has seen time and again that the stations at the end-of-the-line (such as Norwalk on the Green Line or NoHo on the Red Line) see a lot of riders and parking demand. The APU/Citrus College Station is just west of the Azusa/Glendora border and it’s likely drawing riders from points east.

      Bottom line: the demand is going to be heavy at that station. I spoke to a couple riders this morning who said they were able to snag a space at the garage in Azusa Downtown after not finding parking at APU/Citrus College Station. For those coming from the east, the Irwindale Station might be an alternative. It has 350 spaces and is right off the 210 Freeway at Irwindale Avenue.

      We know there still may not be enough parking to satisfy everyone. Metro encourages everyone to look at various options to reach the stations. One thing to consider: there are good bus connections in place for each station — see this post – – (scroll about halfway down), which lists them all and provides the links to the different bus lines. There’s also drop-off options, bike racks and bike lockers.

      The larger issue here is how much should any transit agency spend on parking. It’s a tough one that we’ve encountered on other lines, too. We want to make it possible to take transit — particularly in suburban environments. But we also don’t want to spend all the dollars available or surround our new stations with only parking. The idea is to leave room for a variety of community entities.”

      To read the entire post, use the following link (response is at the bottom of the post):

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