There was a nice event held Friday morning for the 10th anniversary of Gold Line service between Los Angeles Union Station and Pasadena. The event was organized by the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency that is overseeing construction of the 11.5-mile addition to the Gold Line that will bring light rail service to Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa. The Authority also produced the above video.
The location for the event was perfect: the courtyard of the Del Mar station in Pasadena. As Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard noted, the site was once a parking lot for the old Santa Fe depot in Pasadena. Today, a large apartment building surrounds the Gold Line platforms and the old depot is part of the complex, serving as home to two restaurants. The station site includes underground parking, other retail and it’s all a short walk to the heart of Old Pasadena. And it’s one of the Gold Line’s busier stations.
There were many other elected officials and project supporters on hand — people who supported the Gold Line past and present. Among them a trio of Metro Board Members: Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich, Duarte Councilman John Fasana and Glendale Councilman Ara Najarian, as well as Metro CEO Art Leahy. Other attendees included Rep. Judy Chu, staff for Rep. Adam Schiff, Assemblyman Chris Holden, Claremont Councilman Sam Pedroza, Foothill Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian, former Los Angeles Councilman Ed Reyes and Glendora Councilman Doug Tessitor, who served as M.C.
Some of the points made by speakers:
•Pasadena Mayor Boogard said that the vast majority of new residential and commercial development in the city since the Gold Line opened in 2003 has occurred within a half-mile of the Gold Line. That includes more than 2,300 residential units and 750,000 square feet of commercial space that have combined to pump more than one billion dollars into the local and regional economy. He also said that the past 10 years are just the beginning of a long-term revolution in how Pasadena and the surrounding area are developed and how people get around.
•Echoing a similar sentiment, Assemblyman Chris Holden noted how good transit projects such as the Gold Line can “do so much for the urban fabric of a city,” particularly if those projects follow the rules of common sense and stop at destinations people would otherwise have to drive to reach.
•Every speaker — including Metro Board Members Antonovich, Fasana and Najarian — advocated for the funding the Gold Line to Claremont and Montclair in addition to one day building the line west to Burbank and the Orange Line, thereby creating a major east-west transit corridor along the very busy 134 and 210 freeways. Phase 2A of the Gold Line Foothill Extension is funded by Measure R — the segment to Azusa now being built — and Phase 2B to Montclair is in Metro’s long-range plan but is not currently funded.
To put it delicately, this has been an ongoing issue between Metro and Foothill Extension supporters. It has a long history dating back to the 1990s when state legislation was required (by then-Assemblyman and now Congressman Adam Schiff) to force the MTA to build the original Gold Line. And it’s obvious that this isn’t an issue that that is going away, particularly if Metro pursues any type of future ballot measure to help fund project acceleration of new transit or road projects. “We’re going to fight this battle again,” Supervisor Antonovich said.
•For those who want to learn more about the Gold Line Foothill Extension and ongoing construction, please visit the Construction Authority’s website which includes maps, construction updates, renderings and tons of info about the project. The $735-million project includes six new rail stations, two dozen bridges that are either new or re-built and a major maintenance facility in Monrovia (you can see the worksite from the 210 freeway just west of the Home Depot). It’s a big, complicated project with a very low cost by national standards and is currently on-time and on-budget. Construction is expected to be complete in 2015, according to the Construction Authority. The project will subsequently be turned over to Metro, which will then operate it.
And here’s the news release from the Foothill Extension Construction Authority:
COUNTY CELEBRATES METRO GOLD LINE’S 10TH ANNIVERSARY
More than 100 elected officials, project stakeholders and members of the community gathered to celebrate
PASADENA: Today, more than 100 elected officials, project stakeholders and members of the community gathered at the Metro Gold Line Del Mar Station to celebrate the 10th anniversary of passenger service on the Metro Gold Line light rail line. The initial segment of the Metro Gold Line opened on July 26, 2003, and ran between Union Station in Downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena. Completed on time and under budget by the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority (Construction Authority), the segment included 13 stations – six in Los Angeles, six in Pasadena and one in South Pasadena. Once completed, it was turned over to Metro to operate.
Since operation of the line began in 2003, millions of passengers have used the line. Ridership has increased consistently every year. Today, nearly 1.1 million rides occur on the line each month, a 300% increase since the initial monthly ridership in 2003 of just under 362,000.
Speaking at the event today was Congresswoman Judy Chu, State Assemblyman Chris Holden, County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, Construction Authority board chairman Doug Tessitor and numerous other local elected officials from the throughout the San Gabriel Valley. Here is what a few of the speakers said:
Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard began today’s celebration by welcoming everyone to Pasadena and then highlighting the changes that have occurred in the city since the Gold Line’s completion. “The Gold Line’s arrival has caused a true renaissance in the city of Pasadena. It has improved the fabric of our city and changed how our residents, workers and visitors travel every day.” He added, “Nearly 2,300 new residential units; 750,000 square feet of newly constructed retail and commercial space; as well as numerous other projects that either renovated or adaptively reused our historic buildings. Even using a conservative ratio, the transit oriented development projects in Pasadena along the Gold Line have already generated more than $1 billion dollars for the region.”
Congresswoman Judy Chu reminded the attendees that the Gold Line was not initially supported by Metro or some of the community members: “Over a decade ago, it wouldn’t have necessarily been a given that this Gold Line would have been completed. There was no easy way to get from Pasadena to downtown, and yet there was a lot of resistance to build this line – so much so that the state legislature had to create a new independent agency to construct the Gold Line.” She added: “This place is thriving and it is so active every single day. It’s such a success with the 44,000 riders every day; in fact, Art Leahy said that there are so many riders on this line that Metro is going to be buying more rail cars to speed up service and serve more public transportation customers.
The challenge is to continue this line to Claremont and then Ontario Airport.”
Assemblyman Chris Holden stated: “I remember back in the late 90’s when then Senator Adam Schiff took it upon himself to work through the legislature to create the Gold Line Construction Authority. That action was so pivotal to moving this project forward and creating the kind of synergy that it needed at the time; and certainly has put it on track to see it make its way out to the farthest eastern part of the San Gabriel Valley (and hopefully before not too long into the San Bernardino County area, connecting to the Ontario Airport).” He added: “It makes good sense, it’s common sense and it’s the kind of public transportation we want to encourage our citizens to take part in.”
About the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority
The Construction Authority is an independent transportation planning and construction agency created in 1998 by the California State Legislature. Its purpose is to extend the Metro Gold Line light rail line from Union Station to Montclair, along the foothills of the San Gabriel Valley. The Construction Authority built the initial segment from Union Station to Pasadena and is underway on the Gold Line Foothill Extension. The Foothill Extension is a nearly $2 billion extension that will connect Pasadena to Montclair in two construction segments. The first segment, Pasadena to Azusa, is funded by Los Angeles County’s Measure R and currently underway. The Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation estimates that nearly 7,000 jobs and $1 billion in economic output will be generated during construction of the Pasadena to Azusa segment alone. That segment is on schedule to be completed in Fall 2015. For more information, visit: www.foothillextension.org.