Foothill Gold Line Conference Builds Momentum To Extend

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“The Journey Continues” was a theme of today’s Foothill Gold Line conference. Pictured (left to right) are Metro board chair John Fasana, Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian and Chief Project Officer Chris Burner and Metro Deputy CEO Stephanie Wiggins. Photo: Joe Linton/Streetsblog L.A.

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority hosted a one-day State of the Project 2016 conference today at Pomona College. Elected officials, agency leaders and others gathered to hear some success stories from previous segments, but mostly to look ahead to extending the Gold Line eastward to Montclair, and possibly further.

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The Foothill Gold Line’s next phase eastward, referred to as phase 2B, would extend 12.3 miles to just outside the L.A. County border with San Bernardino County. Stations would be located in Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair. The phase already has environmental clearance, and the construction authority’s board recently approved engineering designs.

At today’s event, construction authority leadership shared characteristics of the Glendora to Montclair extension. The phase is anticipated to cost $1.2 billion, of which still needed are $1.15 billion from L.A. County and $63 million from San Bernardino County. There will be four times more station parking than the prior Pasadena to Azusa segment. The new light rail runs in the same right-of-way as BNSF and Metrolink trains, hence there will complicated relocation of tracks to make space. The light rail stations will be in the middle of the tracks, making for less confusion for riders, but also necessitating some pedestrian under- and over-crossings.

That next extension dominated the conversation, but what really hung over the conference was Measure M, Metro’s sales tax which goes to L.A. County voters on November 8th. 

If passed, Measure M will fully fund the Gold Line within L.A. County. The mayor of L.A. Eric Garcetti and three congressmembers – Garce Napolitano, Judy Chu, and Norma Torres – all stressed the importance of passing Measure M. Congressmember Chu called Measure M “the one great hope” for extending the Gold Line. Torres spoke on the need for inter-county cooperation to get the line to Ontario Airport. All emphasized that everyone present should not only vote for Measure M, but get the word out to friends, family, and others. Congressmember Napolitano joked that Mayor Garcetti should have brought and handed out lists of voters for people in the room to call in the coming weeks.

Perhaps most telling was Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian’s response to Metro Chair John Fasana’s question about any possible Plan B. What is the back up plan for the Gold Line if Measure M does not pass? Bailan, who had been speaking enthusiastically, responded more quietly that there might be some federal funding, but that would likely delay the project 30 years, or maybe state cap-and-trade funds, but those have been faltering recently.

If Measure M passes, phase 2B of the Gold Line is ready and should be among the earliest projects underway. If Measure M fails to get the necessary two-thirds, the future of the Gold Line is a whole lot less clear.

SBLA coverage of San Gabriel Valley livability is supported by Foothill Transit, offering car-free travel throughout the San Gabriel Valley with connections to the new Gold Line Stations across the Foothills and Commuter Express lines traveling into the heart of downtown L.A. To plan your trip, visit foothilltransit.org. “Foothill Transit. Going Good Places.”

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American Institute of Architects: First Friday Series Guest Speaker:  Mr. Habib F. Balien, Chief Executive Officer Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority In the year 2000, work began on the 13.7 mile Los Angeles-to-Pasadena Gold Line.  It was two years after the California State Legislature adopted SB 1847 creating the Metro Gold Line Construction […]