Gold Line on schedule, on budget for Azusa extension – Los Angeles Register

The following article appeared in the Los Angeles Register on July 24, 2014.

Gold Line on schedule, on budget for Azusa extension – Los Angeles Register

Photo by Anibal Ortiz, Los Angeles Register Staff Photographer

By America Hernandez

July 24, 2014

The Pasadena-to-Azusa segment of the Metro Gold Line Foothill extension is working toward completion.

The 11.5-mile extension, which began construction in June 2010, will add six Gold Line stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and downtown Azusa, terminating near Azusa Pacific University and Citrus College.

“The construction is happening in layers, and very soon, it will look almost done,” said Lisa Levy Buch, director of public affairs for the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

“A lot of what’s left involves the overhead system that electrifies the train, and the communication system between stations,” Buch said.

The billion-dollar project will be handed over to Metro for testing and opening in September 2015.

The Metro Gold Line, which began operating in 2003, serves 1.1 million riders every monthtraveling between East Los Angeles and Pasadena, Metro data show. The line proved so popular that Metro added train cars in 2009 and extended hours to 2 a.m. on Saturdays to meet demand, officials said.

Now, cities along the Foothill extension corridor hope the new stations will jump-start business and development in their areas. Most stops are within walking distance of popular destinations, such as the L.A. Arboretum, the Santa Anita racetrack and City of Hope medical center.

Every station will have bicycle spaces, lockers and car parking, and each city has selected artists who are creating custom designs to be used in the terminals.

The construction authority completed a study in 2010 that found 1,200 acres of opportunity sites that could accommodate 3 million square feet of retail space, 7.5 million square feet of office space and room for 17,000 housing units along the project’s corridor.

A second extension, which will reach Montclair in San Bernardino County and may connect to Ontario Airport, will be ready for construction in 2017 and could be finished by 2022 if Metro provides funding.

The project would add stops in Glendora, La Verne, Pomona and Claremont, while San Bernardino funds and builds the last mile of the track to Montclair. The Ontario Airport connection, if approved and funded by that city’s transportation authority, would be completed around 2035.

Nicknamed “the brain train” because of the many colleges within walking distance of each stop, the Azusa-to-Claremont extension will be 12.5 miles long and require an additional $1 billion to build.

It is unclear where the money will come from. Even though the second extension was included in the Measure R transportation tax and given a first priority status for any new funding, Metro has left the project off its 10-year Short Range building plan.

Under current legislation it has no funds set aside for the next 30 years.

The Metro board met Thursday to discuss short- and long-term building plans. The second Foothill extension was not allocated any money, despite letters from local governments, senators and Assembly members.

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