Gold Line Foothill Extension Photo Tour: The Maintenance Yard

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The Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Yard will be able to store 84 cars when it is completed. The M&O site will be complete with a train car wash, a train car storage yard, 188 employee parking stalls, and a covered maintenance-of-way facility.

In this photo essay, we will explore the Foothill Gold Line’s magnificent Maintenance and Operations (M&O) Facility, currently under construction in Monrovia.

Earlier this week, Streetsblog’s Damien Newton and Aviv Kleinman joined a behind-the-scenes tour of the Gold Line Phase II under construction in the San Gabriel Valley. We joined Albert Ho, head of Media Relations for the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, and Jeff Rowland, the Community Relations Manager for the  Kiewit-Parsons Joint Venture, the constructors of the project. Part 1 of the series documented the rail corridor and stations.

For those just joining us, the Gold Line is a 19.7 mile light rail line running from East Los Angeles to Pasadena via Union Station in Downtown L.A. The line currently serves 21 stations, and is operated by Metro. The Gold Line Foothill Extension will extend from its current terminus, in East Pasadena at Sierra Madre Villa, to Azusa. The 11.3-mile new extension includes 6 new stations. The extension will serve five cities directly, and it is proposed to transform the San Gabriel Valley entirely. Once bounded by distress of being caught in freeway gridlock, San Gabriel Valley residents will now have the freedom to commute by rail into Downtown L.A. and endless locations from there by using the new Gold Line extension.

M&O Campus
M&O Facility Site Plan, courtesy of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (click for hi-res)

Main Building Rendering
M&O Facility Main Building Rendering, courtesy of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (click for hi-res)
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One of the maintenance-of-way stalls under construction in the main building of the M&O yard
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Workers overhead spray-painting the skeletal structure of the future main building
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Constructing the train car wash facility. At the end of each day, each train will pass through this specialized car wash to get a nice scrub-down after the long day’s work.
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When completed, workers will be able to service the underside of train cars from these below-grade trenches, “like at a Jiffy-Lube,” according to Jeff Rowland, the Community Relations Manager for the Kiewit-Parsons Joint Venture.
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This retaining wall was set in place after earth was extracted from this north side of the facility in order to flatten the yard’s grade. Most of the earth extracted from here was moved to the fill in the southern side of the facility, in order to flatten the 27-acre maintenance facility.
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An elevated water tank proudly declares the constructor’s name.
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Though most of the track along the line utilizes state-of-the-art concrete rail ties, classic wooden ties are used at switches along the track, and there are 56 switches in the M&O facility. According to Rowland, wooden ties are used in spots that it may be necessary to adjust the rail by even just a few millimeters. Concrete ties last longer, but rails cannot be adjusted as easily along them as with wood.
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Wooden ties waiting on pallets to be put in place. These types of ties are installed the “old fashioned way,” by hand, “like you see in the old school,” according to Rowland.
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The transition from concrete ties at a straight length of track to wooden ties at a switch.
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The rail yard will be able to store 84 cars when it is competed. There are a total of 5 miles of fully-electrified track in use within the M&O facility alone.
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This piece of switch machinery pushes the track to guide the train to its correct storage lane.
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This junction of two rails, as Rowland explained, is called a frog. It forms the immovable part of a switch that ensures that the train’s wheels are always supported by a rail, and do not drop into the gap formed at the junction of the two tracks. It requires a heavy cast of steel in order to withstand the impact of train wheels.
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Concrete ties meet wood ties. Though most of the track is welded, fishplates (the piece of steel with bolts that hold two lengths of track together) like this are used in critical spots.
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Newly delivered Bumping Posts wait for their installation. Bumping Posts are installed at the ends of rail stubs, readily accepting the immense impact of trains that do not stop where they’re supposed to.
  • Joe Linton

    Any word on whether the opening of the massive new yard means that Metro will be getting out of Midway Yards? Midway is located along Elysian Park and the L.A. River in Chinatown. Metro had made promises in the 1990s that they would be using the Midway site temporarily, until they got the big SGV yard going. Midway will be an important site for future L.A. River revitalization.

  • Joe, from what I recall reading, that yard closes as soon as this one opens.

  • The Bumping Posts are made in Germany because…?

  • davistrain

    Low bidder? Faster availability? Special design not made in US? Some of the new rail for the project was made overseas, while other rails were made in Colorado, at the old Colorado Fuel and Iron plant now owned by a Russian company. And for some light-duty applications, the old Santa Fe rail from 1953 (much of it from CF&I) has been welded into suitable lengths for re-use.

  • davistrain

    Thanks for the coverage–I’ve been following the Gold Line project and its predecessors for over 20 years now. As a San Gabriel Valley native who saw the Pacific Electric rails ripped out of Olive Ave. in Monrovia as a boy, I am thankful to have lived long enough to see electric railway construction in my old home town. Here’s a photo of the first trolley wire being installed near City of Hope in Duarte.

  • herp derp

    The Division 21 facility (Los Angeles River Yard) is staying open. Metrolink has two tracks between the river and the yard anyway so closing it wouldn’t do a lot of good, and its wedged out of the way anyway.

    Metrolink’s combined facility on the other side of the river is a much more important site for future river plans.

  • Joe Linton

    As a central-L.A. River revitalization activist, I’d like to see both of them gone

  • Surely a U.S. supplier could be found?

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I agree Erik but at least they were made in a country that is a close ally, known for it’s high quality products, excellent environmental regs and working conditions, and also pays it workers living wages. There are other countries that could have manufactured these where the government actively spies on our industries in attempts to undermine them. Could have been much worse.

    But maybe the rolling stock will be German made (I don’t know) and these are the compatible bumping posts.

    And yes I’m and American born German of parents.

  • Andy B from Jersey

    I love the photo essay. Only planning and transit wonks would get all hot an bothered by photos of a half finished maintenance yard. Hubba! Hubba! ;-)

  • Rail Fan

    There Is No US Supplier

  • Rail Fan

    the rolling stock will be from Japan

  • Reality Check

    The Division 21 facility is Not Closing when the Shops and Yard Open on the Gold Line Ext

  • Reality Check

    Well Joe Linton you Would Like the See Both Rail Yards Gone WELL THAT will Never Happen so Stop Dreaming that Will Never Happen the Metro Link Yard has been there since the 1800’s Not going any where SORRY to Burst Your Dreams

  • Aviv Kleinman

    I’m way hot and bothered. I was like a kid in Disneyland!

  • Aviv Kleinman

    This is a sneak peak to my next article (about the bridges and the old trackage). The construction PR guy (Jeff Rowland) informed us that they tried to re-use the abandoned rails from the former SF trackage, and approx. 90% of it was usable after inspection.

  • And Italy.

  • Really!?! Wow, 60 years of basically no investment in rail in the USA has led to her inability to not only make rolling stock (see above), which I knew, but even a simple train buffer? Sheesh.

  • The initial light rail line in St. Louis also used this method to save money. Aviv, please include the age of the rail in your story. P.S. Only west of the MillerCoors plant in Irwindale was the trackage “abandoned” and really not that long ago, as Metrolink was using it for Rose Bowl specials until then.

  • Aviv Kleinman

    Oh wow, what a great photo!

  • Aviv Kleinman

    These trucks are running on hi-rail, correct?

  • Bill Brooks

    The entire Construction team building the much needed Goldline extension is performing at lightening speed, yet not sacrificing quality or safety to personnel. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the bureaucrats responsible for procuring the additional needed railcars. Those clowns are nothing more than clueless boobs who could not hit water if they fell out of a boat in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

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