Foothill Gold Line Glendora-to-Montclair Extension Ready, Waiting for Voters

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Source: Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority

Last March beneath the omnipresent San Gabriel Mountains, the Foothill Gold Line’s Pasadena to Azusa extension opened up to residents and commuters alike. Financed by Measure R sales tax returns, the Pasadena to Azusa extension opened to higher-than-expected ridership numbers, indicating the growing region’s desire for increased light rail connectivity and a commuting alternative to jam-packed traffic on the 210 Freeway.

This November, voters will decide the future of the Gold Line expansion to Glendora through Montclair. The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority is eager to secure additional funding to initiate the $1.2 billion extension which will add 12.3 miles of rail and six new stations located in the cities of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont, and Montclair. The project, though slated to begin in 2019, could break ground as early as 2017 depending on voters approving Metro’s Measure R2 sales tax. The current estimated completion is within a three-year range from 2025-2028.

Officials hope that the Glendora to Montclair extension will be financed through the R2 sales tax increase, officially now known as the Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan. If passed, R2 will apportion $1.2 billion to the Foothill Construction Authority to build the Gold Line to Claremont, the last extension city located in L.A. County. The easternmost terminus, Montclair Station, is located in San Bernardino County, so the San Bernardino Associated Governments (SANBAG) is expected to contribute supplemental funding for their station.

The extension, according to Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian, is positioned to be the first project ready-to-go into construction following R2 approval. Having already completed its environmental clearance (Environmental Impact Report – EIR) in 2013, the advanced conceptual engineering for the extension is expected to be finished by this September. Balian noted in a phone interview:

Strategic elements of the project, including the alignment, station parking, the station area site plan – all of those details will be released to the cities by September. Contingent on the sales tax measure approval, we’ll be the first project ready to go into construction.

Project Development
Though slated by Metro to begin 2019, the Glendora to Montclair extension could hit the ground as early as 2017 with R2 approval. Source: Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority

Gold Line Authority officials mentioned the potential of the Glendora to Montclair segment to catalyze equity, local development, and sustainable transportation benefits throughout the region. In a 2006 Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) study, officials noted that, from Arcadia to Montclair, there was a potential 1,200 acres of “opportunity sites” – all planned for by the six cities served by this upcoming extension.

In addition, the extension will open up access to key destination sites for the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys, including over two dozen colleges and universities, the L.A. County Fairplex, and the San Gabriel Mountains National Monument.

The Glendora to Montclair segment also holds the potential of increasing inter-county connectivity. The initial extension is planned to end in the San Bernardino city of Montclair. There have been talks between officials about a potential Ontario Airport extension, with additional San Bernardino County stations. However, according to Balian more SANBAG support is needed for the idea to become a reality:

We would defer to SANBAG and the cities of San Bernardino County to help develop the extension to the airport. There hasn’t been the unanimous support to move ahead with a study at this point. We hope when the time comes, there will be support. Montclair has a large inter-regional transit center and high-capacity bus, rail, and car parking areas, so it’s a great place for this line to terminate – even if it’s temporary.

A Montclair terminus is also expected to provide much greater parking capacity than the current extension Azusa terminus stations, currently experiencing a high demand for limited free parking supply. As of the most recent 2016 March EIR, the Montclair Station would include the Montclair transportation center’s 1,600 existing parking spaces, much more than the current 200 allocated Metro stalls at the Azusa Downtown Station.

Montclair Transit Center
The proposed Montclair terminus would provide mobility options for both L.A. County and San Bernandino County residents, including connections to key bus, Metrolink, and highway transportation facilities. Source: Omnitrans

Until November’s R2 vote, however, residents will not know whether and when the next Gold Line extension will become a reality. Balian stated how critical the next few months will be for the future of the Metro Gold Line:

Right now, we’re not thinking about after R2 – we’re focused on November and interested in making sure people understand the readiness of this project and its potential to improve lives for residents in the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire.

Note that there are also plans afoot to extend the Eastside Gold Line into South El Monte and/or Whittier, separate from the Foothill Gold Line extensions.

SBLA coverage of San Gabriel Valley livability is supported by Foothill Transit. Foothill Transit has been a leader in sustainable transportation for years. And now they’re committed to having a 100% electric bus fleet by 2030. To celebrate, Foothill Transit is giving away prizes and sharing facts about how their electric buses help clear the air. Visit Foothill Transit’s e-bus sweepstakes webpage to see how you can join in the eco-friendly fun!

  • Stvr

    Parking. Parking. Parking. There’s never going to be enough parking for this line. How about no parking instead? Trust me. People will walk. Uber. Bike. Get dropped off. Bus. Lease a private spot. You’re a transit agency not a parking agency

  • KJ

    Exactly!

  • Who is a transit agency? Metro? They are not building this project. The Construction Authority is.

    P.S. Montclair station has 12 bus routes serving it plus Metrolink’s SB Line and the PE bike path nearby.

  • mittim80

    There are so so so so many projects in Los Angeles city and county that are desperately needed. Rail on Vermont. Sepulveda pass line. Green line extension to Metrolink. Crenshaw line northern extension to west Hollywood. Some form of rapid transit on Sunset/Santa Monica, the current 704 route. And yet- an extension of high-frequency light rail to the least dense parts of the county, an area already served by Metrolink, is more likely than all of these? Where are metro’s priorities???

  • Ray

    They should toll the entire 210 freeway and use the proceeds to pay for this rail line and free uber rides for its users. No parking is needed.

  • QuestionQue

    The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, which is an independent agency, completed its environmental clearance (Environmental Impact Report – EIR) in 2013. An EIR takes several years and others are in progress but not complete. An agency limited in scope can focus its efforts while Metro is much slower at making decisions because of competing interests.

  • Eyesocket Kabarbabar

    I wish there were agencies like that for other lines. Particularly a Sepulveda Pass/Van Nuys/LAX Line and the Crenshaw North extension to Hollywood

  • There’s hardly a comparison between Metro’s light rail service via the Gold Line and Metrolink. Metro’s service is far more frequent, cheaper, and generally more reliable than Metrolink and unless the folks at SCRRA do something soon, the extension of the Gold Line to Claremont/Montclair will sap a lot of Metrolink riders when it opens.

  • To be fair, the existing parking lot at Montclair is vastly bigger than Azusa’s and the folks there are taking (bad) stabs at TOD too.

  • Right idea, but perhaps I-10 is a better option for this since they already have toll lanes on part of it and are currently planning to extend them all the way through San Bernardino County.

  • There have been talks between officials about a potential Ontario Airport extension, with additional San Bernardino County stations.

    Likely never going to happen as I hear that there has been encroachment in the right-of-way through Upland.

  • GR

    I am pretty sure the current Gold Line to Azusa is already putting a notable dent in Metrolink SB Line’s ridership. The APU/Citrus Gold Line Station is about 2 miles up the road from the Covina Metrolink Station… both going to Union Station with Metrolink only like 5 minutes faster, but much, much more expensive (~$8 vs $1.75).

  • GR

    Won’t happen because SB County doesn’t have the money nor the will to build, operate, and maintain an extension to ONT. Even the short 1/2 mile extension to Montclair is a maybe.

  • Which is disturbing given what a no-brainer it is (connection to Omnitrans and Riverside RTA, 1600 spaces mostly sitting empty today, easy access to 10 and 210)

  • Simple, this project, like Expo and Crenshaw (and Blue), has the former railroad right-of-way sitting and available. All the projects you list require expensive tunneling/elevated construction or taking lanes from SOVs or Free Curbside Car Storage. Path of least resistance.

  • There is, it is Metro itself, now that Sacramento is comfortable with Metro planning and building projects again.

  • Charles Patrick Hobbs

    1. If the San Dimas Ave station is near Downtown San Dimas (San Dimas Ave), rather than near the 57 (as I’ve seen on some maps), that would be a good thing.

    2. I would also like to see a station near Lone Hill Bl; this would be a great intercept for traffic coming off the I-210. Perhaps most of the parking could be concentrated there, rather than Downtown Glendora or San Dimas.

  • I’m pretty confident that SANBAG is on-board with the extension to Montclair, and especially after seeing the success of Azusa, they’ll go along with it as long as it’s not too expensive. But the extension all the way to Ontario is probably not in the cards, the right-of-way issue will almost certainly prove to be the undoing. Only other option would be to route it to be south, probably on Central, then east on Holt to the airport. But that would have to be street-running (unless they agree to elevate the whole thing) and I definitely don’t know where the funding for such a project would come from.

  • Matt

    Not necessarily. Montclair to LA via the Gold Line is going to be 1.5 hours. Metrolink would be much faster. Also, Metrolink may gain some new riders from the connection at Montclair.

  • Don Bing

    Will there be a stop near the Pomona Fairgrounds?

  • Don Bing

    What about a cross-platform transfer between Metrolink and Gold Line where the two systems run parallel? This will assist commuters from points east to connect easily to Pasadena. Major obstacle is the BNSF freight industrial spur.

  • Andre Leneal

    What about building light rails in communities that have demonstrated surplus of riders versus the dearth of transportation? What about communities where car ownership isn’t so high? Why are we increasing accessibility to the Deep (San Gabriel) Valley when one can wait 2 hours for the Slauson Bus?

  • The spur is only present after the split in Pomona. Through Claremont, freight trains would just be able to run on the existing Metrolink tracks. Also, as much as they would make sense, I would be surprised to see cross-platform transfers since the two systems use trains with floors of different heights and it’s another method of crowd control. Additionally, the only real area where it’s possible is at Montclair. All the other stations are not planned to be adjacent the existing Metrolink platforms.

  • Closest stop will be by the existing Pomona North Metrolink station.

  • Perhaps. On Metrolink, it’s about an hour from Montclair to LAUS (or around 35 if they ever bring back the express trains). However, it’s nearly $20 round trip, about $16 more than a round trip using current Metro prices. If the Gold Line is only going to take an hour and a half, I think a lot of people would be quite amenable to saving $80/week in exchange for half an hour more per day on the train.

  • irengineer

    Laverne stop @ E street and Arrow.

  • Because (Deep) SGV is still developing more, so it’s a great opportunity to build communities where people move in and immediately have a rail connection. As for Slauson, it just needs to be restriped with a bus-only lane.

  • Andre Leneal

    That’s discounting the need for connection in parts of LA that could benefit because there’s a lack of Pubtrans. There isn’t a commuter train or Amtrak to Leimert Park because its proximity is “closer” but traveling to Leimert can take an hour from Hollywood because transit options between South LA and Central LA are few or inconsistent.

    And creating bus lane for a bus that doesn’t run more than once an hour won’t fix anything.

  • Won’t Leimart Park be getting the Crenshaw Line long before ground is broken on Azusa-Montclair?

  • A bus from Montclair station using I-10 will take 10-15 minutes to get from Montclair to ONT.

  • Andre Leneal

    The Crenshaw Line should have preceded the Gold Line Extension. And before it’s done, there’s already a conversation about extending the Gold Line farther.

  • Ray

    Metro and the authorities that build the light rail lines are trying to get the most miles for their money. None of the lines are built with transit efficiency in mind. This article explains how they do things right in Paris: http://transitcenter.org/2016/07/07/paris-trams-are-hyper-cool/ (Of course, for a much higher cost.)

  • The only acceptable compromise that I can see is building a busway to connect Montclair with the planned HOT lanes on I-10, then building a direct HOT access from somewhere like Archibald. Otherwise, that’ll easily become a guaranteed 30 minutes in traffic.

  • Because the SGV politicos encouraged and demanded it. Meanwhile, look at the roadblocks that Metro has had tossed at it on the Crenshaw project by the Bus Riders Union and Damien Goodmon. Again, Crenshaw requires some tunneling (even more if Goodmon get his way). Tunneling was illegal in Los Angeles County until 2008. So when Metro has an empty right of way that can make a bunch of cities and two County Supervisors happy versus having to fight Zev Yaroslavsky yet again to build transit, guess which project they took? As for extending the Gold Line beyond Montclair, Metro can’t pay for that, it will be on SanBAG’s dime (just as the 400 feet from the County Line to the Montclair TransCenter will be.

  • A bus does not have to use the Interstate. Holt is an alternative.

  • But getting to Holt is still the issue. Going down Central isn’t exactly quick unless they put in preemption or better yet, bus-only lanes. Then on Holt, that’s a tedious drive too without the aforementioned features, though at least Ontario wants Omnitrans to lean toward using center bus-only lanes for the West Valley Connector through the city. Still, I’m not sure that will be great for running an express airport connection.

  • Matt

    Metrolink is cheaper is you use a pass. Metro will likely institute distanced based fares once the Gold Line goes to Montclair so don’t count on that $1.75 fare. Oh and it is an hour extra each day considering you have to travel both ways.

  • Monte Vista is six-lanes to Palo Verde and has an underpass to avoid train conflicts. Again, this is an alternate routing of a non-stop bus, which is what buses are much better at doing than trains.

  • No, it varies between four and six lanes from Richton to the freeway, then between four and two lanes, at some points with on-street parking, down to Holt. But it sounds like you’re unfamiliar with the proposal for bus acces to the I-10 HOT lanes, which would of course be built for more than just the airport connection.

  • I doubt SANBAG will extend it in any of our lifetimes.

  • Yea, it ultimately all depends on the fare and time difference. If more double-tracking of Metrolink is done before the Gold Line opens and Metro’s distance-based fares cost a fortune, then Metrolink ridership will remain. But even if the double-tracking is done, if Metro’s fares are significantly lower, then I can see it snagging riders. Realistically, if they’re going to distance-based fares, it should apply to both services.

  • Rachel

    I also would like to bring up the frequency and times of Metrolink. The trains themselves do not run on a needed basis for these communities. You really can not spend a night out on the town with Metrolink you have to factor in potential board. And as for the comments of the bus system itself out in Glendora, San Dimas, etc. is pretty bad sometimes you do have to wait in excess of half an hour to and hour for a bus run by the Foothill Transit arrives.