The following article originally appeared in the January 5, 2013 edition of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune.
Monrovia’s Gold Line maintenance yard work in full swing
By Brenda Gazzar
MONROVIA – Old buildings have been demolished and work is under way on a $160 million Gold Line maintenance and operations yard on 24 acres in the southeastern part of the city.
The yard, a necessary component of the $735 million, 11.5-mile Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension from Pasadena to Azusa, will do light and heavy maintenance and repair while accommodating up to 100 light rail cars, said Habib Balian, chief executive officer of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.
“In itself, it’s $160 million of capital construction going on, aside from the 11.5 miles of (alignment) construction,” Balian said, noting that the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) is paying for 75 percent, or $120 million, of the yard.
“Metro has made it a requirement for our project to be built … It wasn’t going to be just a maintenance facility for our 20 vehicles (for the Foothill extension) but to aid the capacity needs of the entire Metro system.”
Currently, Metro only has only one yard, located in Long Beach, that has the capacity to do heavy maintenance light-rail work. The Construction Authority acquired the land needed for the yard at a cost of nearly $99 million, officials said.
Located just north of Duarte Road between California and Shamrock Avenues, the facility is being built by Foothill Transit Constructors, a Kiewit-Parsons joint venture.
Construction Authority officials are calling the yard, which is being built right across from homes, “The Gold Line Operations Campus” since they are encouraging the design-build team to build it less like an institute and more like the scenic grounds of a school or hospital.
“It’s a little tongue-and-cheek; we’re trying to get the design-builder to look at it that way, to pay more attention to perimeter walls, the materials being used,” Balian said. “There is a large public green space area on the northwest corner of the property … that is being landscaped.”
But not everyone is pleased with the yard’s location.
“What we’ve done is taken some of the most desirable land in the area; we’ve taken it off the tax rolls in perpetuity,” said Monrovia Councilman Tom Adams, who voted against putting the yard there. “I’m very much in favor of the Gold Line coming. I think it was a very poor choice to put a maintenance yard in that area.”
Adams said he would have liked to see something that would have generated more property tax revenue for the city there.
Grading of the site will continue for the next several months and new buildings will start to be erected by February. The yard is expected to be completed by the early part of 2015, Balian said.
Work on the Pasadena to Azusa alignment has also begun with utility relocation and removal of old railroad tracks and ties. Underground work will continue in the next several months while the placement of the tracks should commence in early 2014, he said.