Foothill Gold Line project reaches construction milestone

by Andrew Alonzo | [email protected]

Last Friday at Rhodes Park in San Dimas, California State Senators, Statistics Assembly Members, and City and County Level Representatives, along with members of the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority , Metro and Metrolink, came together for an event to announce the 9.1-mile stretch of the project from Glendora to Pomona had reached 50% construction completion.

The project, called the L Line, began construction in 2020 and is an extension of the current Gold Line system that will connect the towns of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, to the current Gold Line light rail system.

The current approximately 31-mile system runs from Atlantic Boulevard in Monterey Park to downtown Azusa, with stops along Los Angeles, South Pasadena, Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia and Irwindale.

The project is expected to increase ridership on the subway system by about 11,600 daily weekday boardings when the extension opens for passenger service, according to a news release. It will also provide connections to important regional destinations like the LA County Fairplex, colleges and universities, historic downtowns, museums, state parks and open spaces, and more.

Not to mention, the L line will help ease traffic on the 10 and 210 freeways, as Inland Empire employees working in and around Los Angeles are likely to leave their cars at home in favor of the high-speed railroad. speed.

In August 2019, Kiewit-Parsons won an $805.6 million contract to design and build the nine-mile segment, with a two-year option to complete the full L line. However, plans to finance the remaining 3.2 miles from Pomona to Montclair fell through in October 2021.

Since 2019, contractors have dedicated more than a million hours to bring the project to this milestone. There remains essential work on the nine-mile project, including moving freight track into shared corridors to make room for new light rail tracks; reconstruction of 21 level crossings; construction of 19 new or renovated bridges; installation of new light rail tracks; construction of power supply systems; and the construction of four new stations. The only 100% complete phase of the Foothill Gold Line project is its design.

Despite the numbers and the hurdles caused by COVID-19 over the past two years, officials announced that the assembly of the project is still on track to meet its January 2025 deadline. Once construction is complete, the project will be “transferred to LA Metro for pre-revenue training and service,” according to the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority.

At the press conference, many speakers made the case for the Gold Line and its importance to a rapidly growing California. Among those present at Friday’s event were U.S. Representatives Grace Napolitano and Judy Chu; California State Senator Anthony Portantino; California State Assemblymen Chris Holden and Freddie Rodriguez; Hilda Solis, Metro Board Chair and LA County Supervisor; Kathryn Barger, Metro Board Member and Los Angeles County Supervisor; Metro Board Member, Foothill Gold Line Board Member and Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval; Foothill Gold Line Chairman and Claremont Pro Tem Mayor Ed Reece; and Metro Board Member, Metrolink Chairman and Glendale Board Member, Ara Najarian.

Mayors and city council members from towns connecting Foothill Gold Line were also present. Cake and photos in front of a new concrete bridge in San Dimas followed the formalities.

Although the progress of the project was rightly celebrated, questions remained about potential funding sources for the remaining 3.2 miles of railroad from Pomona to Montclair. Despite the 9.1 mile section from Glendora to Pomona already fully funded by Measure M, residual funds from Measure R and other sources, funding for the Pomona to Montclair section has yet to materialize.

In short, officials are still playing the waiting game with California Governor Gavin Newsom’s office. While Newsom didn’t say no to the project, he also didn’t say yes.

Pushes for funding have taken place over the years, including a September 2021 meeting where state lawmakers suggested the 3.2-mile railroad be funded from excess state dollars, but no bill has been or has been passed since.

Even after a well-drafted letter from the city of Claremont and surrounding area officials asking for money from the state’s surplus in February, state budget and transportation officials are still considering how to proceed with this project and others.

“We are fighting every day to try to get the $748 million,” Senator Portantino said. “We still have a few more weeks to push and we’re all going to push.”

The $748 million figure would cover the estimated cost of building the remaining 3.2 miles of the light rail system, completing the entire L line project from Glendora to Montclair.

The state’s fiscal year ends July 1, and last month Newsom announced a budget surplus of $98 billion, including at least $5 billion for transportation projects. Local authorities and the building authority want almost a fifth of that figure for the L line.

Members of the Los Angeles County delegation, like Senator Portantino, have made it a priority to cover the remaining 3.2-mile extension as quickly as possible. And if no funding materializes this fiscal year, they will try again next time.

In the event the state rejects funding proposals for the Pomona segment of Montclair a second time, Montclair City Manager Edward Starr said the city will work to acquire federal infrastructure funds to support the cause.

The only concrete money allocated for the 3.2-mile project has been set aside by the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority at around $90 million.

The extension from Pomona to Montclair would allow two new stops, one at Claremont and the other at the Montclair Transit Center. Four “predicted grade separations for Gold Line trains only” would also accompany the unfunded segment.

As the fight for funding for the 3.2-mile section continues, Los Angeles County Supervisor Barger added that she is grateful to each of the senators, congressmen and representatives who have pledged to make the proposed section a reality.

“When you have that in addition to the Congressional delegations here represented by Congressman Chu and Congressman [Grace] Napolitano, it’s going to be hard work, but I think we’re speaking with one voice,” Supervisor Barger said. “As a region, we recognize the definite benefit not only to LA County, but across the border to San Bernardino [County].”

Once the entire L line project is complete, it will be the first LA County streetcar line to span the San Bernadino County line. Although funding remains on hold for the crucial stretch, subway officials hope the entire project will be completed by the summer of 2028, when the Olympics and Paralympics take place in Los Angeles.

For more information on the Foothill Gold Line project and to view updates, visit https://foothillgoldline.org.

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