The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune and Pasadena Star-News on January 12, 2016.
Why Azusa, APU asked Metro for a four-month delay in opening last Gold Line station – San Gabriel Valley Tribune
By Steve Scauzillo
January 12, 2016
The city of Azusa, Rosedale Land Partners and Azusa Pacific University have asked Metro to delay opening the Gold Line light-rail station in their location for four months, citing unsafe road connections.
All three are concerned the Azusa Pacific University/Citrus College station, the last of six stations in the $1 billion Gold Line foothill extension, will cause traffic jams and unsafe pedestrian crossings because the extension of Citrus Avenue to Foothill Boulevard and Promenade to the south end of the parking structure has not yet been completed.
The 11.5-mile extension of the East L.A-to-Pasadena train from Sierra Madre Villa Station to the Azusa/Glendora border was substantially completed on Sept. 23. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) announced a short time later it will operate the new line beginning March 5.
On Monday, Metro received the first public objection to the line extension from a city along the route, after thousands of people and dignitaries celebrated the completion of the stations this summer.
“I encourage Metro to postpone the opening of the APU/Citrus College station until the Citrus Avenue extension improvements are completed. While we are certainly looking forward to the opening of the APU/Citrus College station, we want it to happen when it is safe to do so and without imposing unnecessary adverse impacts on our residents,” wrote Azusa Mayor Joseph Rocha in a letter to Mark Ridley-Thomas, Metro board chairman on Monday.
“Metro has received this request and is taking it under advisement,” Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said in an email. “However, no decisions have been made.”
The builders of Rosedale, a 1,250-home master-planned community in Azusa and Glendora, have included the station as a selling point for its homes and condos. However, on Thursday it asked Metro for a delay in opening the last station until Citrus Avenue connects to Promenade and commuters can access the south end of the station. Currently, Citrus curves into Foothill Boulevard north of APU and Rosedale but doesn’t connect to the station and parking garage.
Azusa and Rosedale estimate construction of the roadway may start in February and be completed in July, barring delays. Until all access roads are built, they don’t want to see the station serving customers.
“We are caught in a difficult position,” said Azusa City Manager Troy Butzlaff. “We want to make sure it is safe and we are not imposing impacts on residents.”
The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority anticipated problems with the completion of Citrus Avenue to the APU/Citrus College station back in April 2015, when its board approved a $1 million expenditure to help Rosedale, Azusa and Glendora complete the project in time for the opening of light-rail service.
But the cities and Rosedale could not agree on the road’s alignment, according to sources close to the project.
Instead, as a quick fix, the Construction Authority built a portion of Citrus from the station to Promenade. Drivers and pedestrians from the station would take Promenade, an east-west street, to Palm Drive, a north-south street that connects with Foothill Boulevard, about 0.2 miles from Citrus Avenue at Citrus College.
Recognizing that the route is circuitous, the Construction Authority agreed to provide bus shuttles from the station to APU and Citrus College once the trains start running March 5, and until Citrus Avenue is completed.
Rosedale Land Partners Vice President William Holman told Metro CEO Phil Washington that this is not acceptable.
“These narrow residential streets are not designed to conveniently or safely handle the volume of traffic the station will attract,” he wrote. Butzlaff agreed, saying cars, shuttles and pedestrians traveling Rosedale’s one-lane roads would impact the residents and may be unsafe.
The three are worried that student riders may find the shortest path, which could include walking through a construction zone, Butzlaff said.
APU’s Senior Vice President and General Counsel Mark Dickerson wrote that opening the station on March 5 as planned without the Citrus Avenue extension and traffic signal would add congestion around the university’s two campuses and create a public safety concern.
The three suggest Metro open the line March 5 but only to the downtown Azusa station between Azusa Avenue and Alameda Avenue. The 550-space parking structure can accommodate all cars and any increased ridership for the succeeding four months.
“We have not heard back from Metro,” Rosedale spokesman Tim McGarry said. “The matter has not yet been resolved.”