Opinion: Gold Line extension from Pasadena to Azusa is halfway there – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The following Opinion appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on February 19, 2014.

Opinion: Gold Line extension from Pasadena to Azusa is halfway there – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By Doug Tessitor, Glendora City Councilmember and Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority Board Chairman

February 19, 2014

In 2010, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension was the first Measure R rail project to break ground and has remained on-time and on-budget as work has progressed. Now, the project has achieved a major milestone: The 11.5-mile light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa is more than halfway to project completion.

Displays of this progress are visible throughout the corridor and the excitement is building as it becomes more and more apparent that the Gold Line will soon be arriving in the corridor cities.

The most unique display of the progress made to date is the Gold Line Bridge spanning the eastbound lanes of the 210 Freeway in Arcadia. Completed in December 2012, the bridge serves as a visual reminder of the tremendous work being done to bring light rail further east into the San Gabriel Valley. Like the rest of the construction done so far on this current segment of the Gold Line, the bridge was completed on-time and on-budget, and was recognized in 2013 with five industry awards for its design and construction.

Obviously, the bridge is only one piece of the many project elements completed or under way that keep the project on track and moves the Gold Line one step closer to reality for the San Gabriel Valley.

When completed, the nearly $1 billion Measure R project will include six new stations with intermodal parking facilities in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa; two dozen new and rebuilt bridge structures; 14 at-grade street crossings; a 3.6-mile shared corridor with BNSF Railway; a 24-acre, $265 million operations campus to house up to 84 light-rail vehicles, and more.

At this halfway point eight at-grade street crossings, 15 bridge structures, 40 percent of the operations campus and 70 percent of the utility work is complete. The freight track between San Gabriel Avenue in Azusa and the Glendora city border has been fully realigned to its new position south of the future light-rail tracks, and more than half of the overhead electrical system foundations have been put in place. Just recently, the first track has been installed. Importantly, of the more than 600,000 work hours completed to date, none has been lost due to injury.

While the Foothill Gold Line extension still has a significant way to go, the progress already made provides the confidence that we will continue to meet our timeline and stay on budget until this project is complete.

The Construction Authority anticipates turning the operations campus over to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) in March 2015, and the remainder of the Pasadena-to-Azusa segment to Metro in September 2015 for testing and pre-revenue service. Metro will decide when the project opens for passenger service.

As we hit this important milestone, the Construction Authority is kicking off the next phases of work for the Azusa-to-Montclair and Ontario airport extensions. Detailed design work for the next 12.3 miles from Azusa to Montclair will begin later this year, and this segment will be shovel-ready in the next two years. The segment was environmentally cleared last year and additional construction funding is being sought to complete this six-station extension.

The authority also intends to begin work this year on the next required study for the Ontario Airport Extension, which will connect the Gold Line from the Montclair Transit Center to the airport in an 8-mile final link. This segment is years away from fruition, but the authority continues to be committed to working toward that goal.

The authority is proud of our record of success with the first two segments of the Gold Line, and we look forward to continuing that success into the future.

We thank the community and corridor cities for their patience during our construction, and for their continued dedication and support of the project — past, present and future. We look forward to celebrating completion of the Pasadena-to-Azusa segment just 18 months from now, and breaking ground on the Azusa-to-Montclair segment as soon as possible.

Doug Tessitor is chairman of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority board and the Foothill Transit board and a Glendora councilman.

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