The following Opinion originally appeared in the Friday, May 10, 2013 print edition of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Pasadena Star-News.
Metro must keep faith on the Gold Line: Opinion
In November 2008, a supermajority of Los Angeles County voters supported Measure R, Metro’s half-cent sales tax increase for transportation. An estimated $40 billion in tax revenue is being generated over thirty years for transit, highway and other projects to improve mobility.
One of the transit projects specified in Measure R is the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Claremont.
Measure R is providing enough funding to build the first half of the light rail line from Pasadena to Azusa. In order to complete the full project to Claremont, an additional $950 million is needed.
The Foothill Extension is no different in this regard than other Measure R projects – additional funds must be found in order to complete the program and meet the voter mandate.
According to Metro documents, billions of dollars must be located from other sources over the coming years to complete the Measure R transit program alone.
Metro has been working on numerous strategies to fill that funding gap.
They have asked voters to extend the county tax, requested grants and loans from the federal government, and worked to partner with the private sector.
To date, these strategies have included plans to complete the Purple Line, the Green Line, and other Measure R transit projects – with one exception: the Foothill Extension.
The Foothill Extension is the only project where Metro has decided to shorten the project to fit the funding, rather than commit to finding the funding to complete the project. A double standard position that the LA city-centric agency is comfortable taking.
The unfortunate message is clear – Metro is committed to completing all Measure R projects, with the exception of the Foothill Extension to Claremont; and without Metro’s commitment to completing the project, funding the line to Claremont will be all but impossible.
The Foothill Extension is a true success story for Measure R and the voters of Los Angeles County.
The Pasadena to Azusa segment was the first Measure R rail project to break ground, and it is on budget and on time.
It will be completed in 2015, when the Construction Authority building the line will turn it over to Metro.
The Azusa to Claremont segment, now environmentally cleared, is being readied for design and engineering in anticipation of a groundbreaking in as early as 2016.
It is time for Metro to stop making excuses for not completing the Foothill Extension and do the right thing.
The voters approved a program of projects carefully crafted by the California State Legislature, which including the Foothill Extension to Claremont.
It was one of only two transit projects with such a clear definition.
It is time for Metro to keep faith with the voters and commit to completing all Measure R projects as promised, including the Foothill Extension – all the way to Claremont.
Doug Tessitor is a Glendora city councilman who serves as chairman of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority’s Board of Directors and on the Executive Board of Foothill Transit. Sam Pedroza is a Claremont city councilman who serves on the Construction Authority’s Board of Directors and as chairman of the Foothill Extension Joint Powers Authority Board. The Construction Authority is an independent transportation agency responsible for planning, designing and building the Gold Line Foothill Extension.