Irritating Double Standards In Azusa Gold Line Station Delay Request

caption
Will the Azusa Pacific University/Citrus College Gold Line Station open in March? photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

Yesterday, Streetsie-nominee Steve Scauzillo broke the news at the San Gabriel Valley Tribune: the city of Azusa, Azusa Pacific University (APU), and Azusa developer Rosedale Land Partners have written to Metro to delay the opening of the APU/Citrus College Station. The APU station is the farthest east of six new Metro Gold Line rail stations set to open on Saturday March 5.

The APU station is finished, but the road to the parking lot is not. Site plan from Gold Line Construction Authority
The APU station is finished, but work extending Citrus Avenue to the station parking lot is not. Site plan from Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.

According to the Tribune, the Azusa interests are concerned that opening the APU station “will cause traffic jams and unsafe pedestrian crossings.” What’s causing this problem? The delay is due to construction not being complete on a road that leads to the station parking structure. And why is the parking structure road delayed? Because, according to the Tribune, the cities of Azusa and Glendora, and the developer Rosedale Land Partners “could not agree on the road’s alignment.” Those are, of course, the same folks now requesting the delay.

My first thoughts reading this news is that there is an irritating double standard going on here.

When Caltrans builds a freeway, they use all kinds of biased, flawed metrics – including Level of Service – to show that opening the freeway will reduce congestion, not only on the freeway itself but also on nearby surface streets. Freeway projects are also promoted as improving safety and reducing air pollution. The truth is, of course, that freeways worsen congestion, safety, and the environment. When communities fight freeways on their actual ill effects, government bureaucracies ignore the truth and just keep building and widening them.

Transit investments are the opposite. Rail travel is orders of magnitude safer than car travel. It is also dramatically better for air quality. In reality, despite rosy promises, new rail lines will not solve congestion issues, but do not make them worse.

Reading the Tribune, it seems to me that Azusa leaders are blaming rail for problems that it does not create.

Also, the way I see it, delaying the Gold Line station opening is likely to make things less safe for some people. If some future riders, perhaps college students, drive instead of riding the train, then they will be less safe. If a rider would would have taken a (statistically very safe) train trip and replaced it with a (statistically much less safe) car trip, then delaying the station opening makes things less safe.

My second thoughts were more encouraging.

It is encouraging that folks in Azusa expect the Gold Line to be transformational. It would be a nice problem to have if early ridership is actually high enough to cause traffic jams. My guess is that a suburban station – one with no parking (or, in this case, limited access to lots of parking) – just will not be all that busy in its first few months of operation. Especially when there are plenty of other parking structures just down the line. Downtown Azusa Station, one mile west, has a multi-story structure with 200 parking spaces for drivers who ride the Gold Line.

It is also encouraging that Azusa ultimately does want and does welcome this train. Azusa interests are calling for a delay, not full-on opposing the train. City officials heartily celebrated their new stations in September. Rosedale includes the Gold Line station on its promotional map.

Metro has not made a decision on the Azusa delay request. Metro and the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority would undoubtedly like to open all six stations as planned in March. But Metro needs to get along with Azusa, in the interest of fostering a good relationship that helps make future collaboration go smoothly. With a November Measure R2.1 transportation tax vote in the balance, Metro CEO Phil Washington and his board need to do what they can to win the hearts and minds of the electorate, and the local officials that can influence it. I wouldn’t blame Metro for playing as nicely as possible with Azusa constituents at this juncture.

Though the rationale doesn’t make much sense to me, it is only four months. An extra station opening celebration this summer could make for extra positive headline going into the November ballot measure vote.

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Gold Line Foothill Extension Preview Ride from Pasadena to Azusa

|
Today, Metro hosted its first press preview for journalists to ride the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension. The 12-mile project includes 6 new stations. It will open on March 5th. Overall the ride was smooth. The train departed Pasadena’s Sierra Madre Station, stopped very briefly at the intermediate five stations, but did not open doors […]

Azusa Dedicates Two New Gold Line Stations, Service Expected 2016

|
Over a thousand people turned out in the September heat to attend last Saturday’s dedication celebration for two new Foothill Gold Line extension stations: Downtown Azusa and Azusa Pacific University/Citrus College. Though actual train service is anticipated to start in 2016, the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority has been celebrating concluding station and rail line construction, as many […]

Foothill Gold Line Extension To Open March 5, 2016

|
Today, Metro CEO Phil Washington announced the opening date for the initial 12-mile extension of the Foothill Gold Line. The new Gold Line extension is set to open on March 5, 2016. The line was built by the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority. When it was substantially complete in September, it was turned over to Metro […]

Today’s Headlines

|
MyFigueroa Construction Will Finally Start In October (Urbanize) Azusa Finally Completes Citrus Ave. Connection To APU Gold Line Station (SGV Tribune) West Hollywood Metro Crenshaw Line Extension Could Move Earlier (WeHoVille, Urbanize) Metro Expo Line’s Surprising Ridership Data (Planetizen) Suspect Arrested In Elysian Valley L.A. River Bike Path Shooting (Eastsider) Suspect Arrested In Pomona Hit-and-Run […]

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

|
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 […]