That was the reaction of the San Gabriel Valley Tribune’s editorial board when it was announced that a certain extension of the Gold Line would be getting $66.7 million in federal funds. Yay? Not really. It wasn’t the Foothill Extension that was the recipient, but the Eastside Extension – a project that is almost complete. The editorial’s biggest gripe towards Metro can be summed up in the irony surrounding the federal funds that were given to an almost-completed transportation project:
Meanwhile, the Gold Line Foothill Extension here in the San Gabriel Valley got zero dollars. Local officials estimate the Gold Line Foothill Extension to Azusa would have created 26,530 new jobs, while the Eastside, since it will open in a month, won’t create any new jobs. Instead, the money will help the MTA pay off its bond a little faster.
We are not making this stuff up. It’s all true. The MTA, the powerful transportation board that takes federal dollars for new projects, has said to hell with creating new jobs with stimulus money. While the Eastside line will be a fine addition to rail transit in the county, it didn’t meet the spirit of the $787 billion stimulus bill because it is a month shy of opening!
The bad news doesn’t stop there, as the editorial points out that the $40 billion (over 30 years) that Metro is scheduled to collect – through the Measure R sales tax increase – is now projected to be considerably less. This obviously leads to a situation that San Gabriel Valley elected officials had predicted would happen: more delays.
Besides being the first and only shovel-ready rail project in Los Angeles County, the editorial hopes the Gold Line Foothill Extension could become one more first for the region:
It could become the first rail line in Southern California to connect to an airport – in this case, Ontario International Airport. Not even [Los Angeles Mayor and Metro Chair Antonio] Villaraigosa or the previous configurations of the MTA were able to accomplish that task.
Link to editorial: Our View: MTA skips Gold Line