San Gabriel Valley business leaders urge Metro to build promised Goldline extension to Claremont – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on June 18, 2014.

San Gabriel Valley business leaders urge Metro to build promised Goldline extension to Claremont – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By Jason Henry

June 18, 2014

A group of San Gabriel Valley business leaders on Wednesday called on Metro to fulfill a promise to voters to extend the Gold Line from Azusa to Claremont by adding the project to a recently-released plan.

A draft of its Short Range Transportation Plan released earlier this month by the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority incensed stakeholders when it did not include the Claremont extension. Proponents argued Metro agreed to the project when voters passed Measure R, a half-cent sales tax, in 2008.

“We are concerned that the Metro will not keep its promise to voters who approved Measure R to complete the Gold Line to Claremont,” stated Cynthia Kurtz, president and CEO of San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership, “The completion of this project is vital to this region where nearly one-fifth of Los Angeles County residents reside.”

Kurtz, along with the heads of 11 San Gabriel Valley chambers of commerce, signed a letter to Metro’s Transportation Planning Manager Robert Calix that urges Metro to amend their plan to include the Claremont segment. The letter joins previous calls from legislators and other stakeholders for Metro to finish its complete foothills extension.

“The Gold Line Foothill Extension to Claremont was one of only two Measure R rail transit capital projects identified in 2009 as a ‘first priority’ project for new funding. The now fully funded Crenshaw Line was the other project,” the letter states. “As currently drafted, the SRTP completely ignores the Azusa-to-Claremont segment of the Gold Line. It does not even include completion of this second segment in the portion of the SRTP that assumes new funding becoming available.”

The first phase of the Gold Line’s expansion — from Pasadena to Azusa — is under construction now, but the second phase to Claremont stalled because Measure R does not have the funds to pay for it, said Metro Spokesman Paul Gonzales.

“It’s not like we’re not hearing this, we are hearing it, and it is something that we’re working on and it’s something that we’re working toward, but currently there is not adequate funding to get it there,” Gonzales said.

The partnership’s letter indicates that the Pasadena-to-Azusa segment is on schedule and on budget for a September 2015 completion. The Azusa-to-Claremont extension “is environmentally cleared and will be ready for design-build in 2017.”

“It could be completed by 2022, easily within the timeline of the Short Range Transportation Plan,” the letter states.

While the project got environmental clearance from the state, federal clearance is still pending, Gonzales said.

“It’s part of the long-range plan, but currently there is not enough funding for it,” he said. “That doesn’t mean that part couldn’t change. We just have to wait and see.”

Metro’s board will vote on the short-range plan at its July board meeting.

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