Final ‘e-clip’ marks completion of track work for Gold Line Foothill Extension!

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A big milestone for the Gold Line Foothill Extension project on Saturday: the final piece of track was installed on the 11.5-mile line that will extend the Gold Line from its terminus in eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border. The project includes six new stations in downtown Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale, downtown Azusa and adjacent to Citrus College and the Rosedale development.

The Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, an independent agency, is building the project and will turn it over to Metro, which will operate it. Metro currently forecasts the project to open in early 2016. Here’s the news release from the Construction Authority:

FOOTHILL GOLD LINE CELEBRATES MAJOR PROJECT MILESTONE WITH TRACK COMPLETION CEREMONY

Hundreds of community members, project stakeholders and elected officials celebrate completion of the light rail track system for 11.5-mile Foothill Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa light rail project

AZUSA, CA – The Foothill Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa today held a Track Completion Ceremony which celebrated construction completion of the light rail track systems needed for the 11.5-mile Foothill Gold Line light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa. The event took place near the future Azusa Downtown Station in the City of Azusa with more than 300 community members, project stakeholders, and elected officials in attendance. The event culminated in the installation of the last of nearly 300,000 e-clips (e-clips permanently attach the steel rail to the concrete railroad ties), marking the permanent connection between the cities of Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa, via this new light rail line. A sidewalk marker was also unveiled during the ceremony, recognizing importance of the day to these corridor cities.

“Installing 28-miles of light rail track is an enormous milestone for our project,” stated Glendora City Council Member and Chairman of the Foothill Gold Line Board of Directors, Doug Tessitor. “It took many months and the hard work of many talented people to get to this point. It is a major achievement and I am glad we took the time to celebrate.”

Congress Members Grace Napolitano and Judy Chu joined Azusa Mayor Joseph Rocha; Glendora City Council Member and Foothill Gold Line Board Chairman Doug Tessitor; Claremont Councilman and Foothill Gold Line Board Vice Chair and Joint Powers Authority Chairman Sam Pedroza; City of Duarte, Metro and Foothill Gold Line Board Member John Fasana; Metro Board Member AraNajarian; State Senator Norma Torres; State Assembly Member Roger Hernandez; City of Azusa Council Member Uriel Macias; Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro Board Member Michael Antonovich; among many others in the celebration.

“The community is realizing that the dream of having the Foothill Gold Line in their town is quickly becoming a reality,” added Tessitor. “A project that has been nearly four years in the making is now less than a year away from completion. The on time, on budget project will forever change the transportation and economic landscape of the San Gabriel Valley and Greater Los Angeles region.”

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About the Foothill Gold Line – The Foothill Gold Line is a nearly $2 billion, 12-station extension of the Metro Gold Line light rail system, being overseen by the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, an independent transportation planning and construction agency created in 1998 by the California State Legislature. The project is planned in two segments – Pasadena to Azusa and Azusa to Montclair. The Pasadena to Azusa segment is fully funded by Los Angeles County’s Measure R and is on budget and on schedule to be completed in late-September 2015 when it will be turned over to Metro for testing and pre-revenue service. Metro will determine when passenger service begins on the line. The Azusa to Montclair segment is currently undergoing advanced conceptual engineering, and will be shovel-ready in 2017. The Construction Authority is currently seeking $1 billion to construct the Azusa to Montclair segment.

Metro unveils new Kinkisharyo pilot rail car

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Metro unveiled the first of 78 Kinkisharyo P3010 rail cars this morning. The first pilot car will be used for testing to ensure it is fully compatible with Metro’s system and that there are no safety or technical issues before the remaining cars are delivered.

If all goes according to plan, Metro will receive its first production car in the summer of 2015. That car will be used for testing and training on the Metro Expo Line Phase II and Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension, and then placed in service when the two lines open in 2016. All 78 cars are expected to be in service by January 2017.

Take a brief tour on the pilot car with this video:

Source writers Anna and Joe, both transit system connoisseurs, were able to take a tour inside the pilot car this morning. Their thoughts:

Joe: The first thing I noticed when I got on the train were the blue floor decals and blue seat designs that marked the disabled/priority seating areas. I’ve seen the blue seat design on our new buses and they’re hard to miss. There’s no doubt that this area is reserved for passengers with special needs and you should be prepared to move if you’re sitting in one of the seats.

I also see potential for the monitors that were located at the front and rear of the train. If they’re ultimately used for something informational such as digital signage, it would be an excellent and efficient use of the space.

Anna: Love the shiny new yellow, it’s very eye-catching. The seat arrangement also makes the train car feel more spacious, and more similar to the Nippon Sharyo cars on the Blue/Expo Line. I agree with Joe on the designated priority seats and can’t wait to see them in use. Not sure how I feel about the emergency door open handle being lower and located on the car wall behind the priority seating. On the one hand, it’s more accessible, which is good in case of emergency. But on the other, it’s located behind priority seating…which is reserved for those who may have mobility issues.

Thing I love the most? The extra large decal showing where the designated bicycle/luggage/stroller area is. It’s impossible to miss and makes it super easy for bicyclists to know where to go when they bring bikes on board.

Keep reading after the jump for the press release on the pilot car from Metro:

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Go Metro to Lit Crawl LA: NoHo this Wednesday night

Photos from last year's LA Lit Crawl: NoHo by Rosalind Helfand.

Photos from last year’s Lit Crawl LA: NoHo by Rosalind Helfand.

The second-ever Lit Crawl LA: NoHo returns this Wednesday evening, Oct. 22, from 7 p.m. to midnight–and getting there via Metro is as easy as A-B-C!

Over 170 writers, literary organizations, and series will offer free readings and cultural events at 30 venues along Lankershim and Magnolia Boulevards. Each Lit Crawl location is within walking distance of the other, and of course, the entire NoHo Arts District is reachable by Metro Red Line, Orange Line, or bus. Simply hop on the Red or Orange Line to North Hollywood Station, or bus lines 152/353, 156/656, or 183 to Lankershim/Chandler.

Lit Crawl LA is organized into three 45-minute phases. At each phase, visitors chose from a diverse program of 10 to 12 events. The night ends with a “speakeasy” party at the Federal Bar at 10 p.m. All events are free to attend, however, food and drink are not included. That’s where Metro can help again: present your valid TAP card at the Federal Bar or Bow and Truss restaurant and save 10% and 15% on food, respectively. Just keep in mind that Metro Rail and Orange Line close around midnight Sunday through Thursday.

Transportation headlines, Monday, October 20

Have a transportation-related article you think should be included in headlines? Drop me an email! And don’t forget, Metro is on TwitterFacebook and Instagram.  

No winners in this MTA train wreck (L.A. Times)

In his opinion column, Jim Newton looks at the dispute between rail car manufacturer Kinkisharyo and a local union that resulted in Kinkisharyo announcing that it won’t build a permanent manufacturing facility in Palmdale. Excerpt:

That won’t be quite the end of it, of course. Kinkisharyo will still do assembly work in Palmdale as long as its MTA contract lasts and will still employ almost 200 people in its existing assembly plant, but the company says it’s finished with the idea of a long-term manufacturing plant in the area. Labor leaders maintain that the company has an obligation under its contract to create these jobs in Los Angeles County, but the MTA disagrees. Officials at the agency say that while Kinkisharyo had committed to doing the rail car assembly locally, the agency cannot, under federal law, force the company to build in the area. Lawsuits already are being filed, and courts will sift through the arguments for months, maybe years.

But that’s all squabbling over the wreckage. The undisputed fact is that a stubborn company and a stubborn union went to war, and because of it, the residents of Palmdale, who could have had a couple of hundred good new jobs, instead will be looking at a vacant lot. Who won that battle? No one. But there are plenty of losers, including California, Los Angeles County, Palmdale and the of men and women who would have built and staffed the manufacturing facility.

 

As Newton writes, the real story here is probably the difficulty of doing business in California. In the meantime, Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich — also a member of the Metro Board of Directors — held a news conference this morning at the County Hall of Administration to discuss the situation.

Photo by Paul Gonzales/Metro.

Photo by Paul Gonzales/Metro.

Antonovich called again on Gov. Jerry Brown to ask the union, the IBEW Local 18, to drop its state lawsuit against Kinkisharyo. He also accused the union of supporting a different rail car manufacturer during the bidding process with Metro and that this is a back door attempt by that firm to gain business with Metro. The union is perhaps best known recently for its significant financial support for the losing candidate in last year’s election for mayor of Los Angeles.

Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford said that he was devastated by the news and that it reinforces the notion that California is not business friendly. He reiterated that Palmdale is very open to working with local businesses to keep and create job and that he remains committed to building the new permanent facility for Kinkisharyo.

Officials celebrate Gold Line milestone in Azusa (San Gabriel Valley Tribune)

Coverage of the last piece of track work being completed in Saturday for the 11.5-mile Gold Line Foothill Extension between Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border. Azusa officials say they are using a Metro grant to study the best ways to use and/or develop land around the two stations in Azusa — one is downtown and the other is adjacent to Citrus College, Azusa Pacific University and the Rosedale development.

Streetsblog L.A. also had a four-part series over the summer on the Gold Line Foothill Extension which includes a ton of photos. Part one, part two, part three and part four. Just to give you an idea how quickly the track work was done, here’s a pic I took back in February when the work was getting underway:

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Did diversity miss the train in Union Station’s architecture (Denver Post) 

A bar in the refurbished Union Station in Denver. Photo by Misty Facheux, via Flickr creative commons.

A bar in the refurbished Union Station in Denver. Photo by Misty Facheux, via Flickr creative commons.

Post architecture critic Ray Mark Rinaldi has been visiting the newly revamped Union Station in downtown Denver and by his own counts found the place to be filled with white faces. He finds that troubling, given that 47 percent of Denver’s population are minorities.

His take: the local transportation agency, the RTD, put too much emphasis on restoring the building to its older European roots and put too much emphasis on attracting businesses that catered to an exclusive, upscale and white clientele. Excerpt:

Still, something is missing. There’s no traditional Mexican restaurant, no soul-food restaurant, no sushi bar, as if no one noticed that the Mexican-American, African-American and Asian-American families that own and operate those places across the city are also our best food purveyors.

This country is full of union stations, old train depots, once the center of civic life, that fell out of use in the auto era. St. Louis fixed up its station by adding a mall. It’s not as successful, but it’s diversified. Kansas City filled its hall with a science center, and kids from across the city’s neighborhoods are regulars there.

Washington, D.C.’s train station now has swank shops, but also a food court. It has, notably, a B. Smith’s restaurant, part of a small, African-American-owned chain that is a touchstone in the black community.

Interesting article and worth a read. I haven’t been to the station in 20 years and have no idea what it’s like now — so it’s hard to form an opinion about the article. Obviously with our Union Station on deck for a major refurbishment and expansion, it’s worth considering such opinions.

The emptying of New York City (Salon)

Manhattan has gotten taller in the past century. But it has also gotten much less dense. The suspected reason: wealth, with fewer people taking up more space. Reminds me of a recent item here on a new Gotham skyscraper that will be the tallest in the city (1,396 feet) and will house only 104 residential units.

Again, something to chew on as development continues in downtown.

CYPHER students to demostrate health and climate solutions at Sustainable Earth Decathlon

photo by Saad Faruque via Flickr/CC

photo by Saad Faruque via Flickr/CC

Multiple college students from CYPHER, a youth organization promoting environmental readiness, will demonstrate strategies to build human health and discuss climate change solutions during the 2014 Sustainable Earth Decathlon (SED 2014).

Support the youth and their ideas Saturday, October 25 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Metro’s Gateway Building in Downtown L.A. Go Metro and take the Metro Red, Purple, Gold or Silver Line to Union Station, and walk towards the East Portal up to Pastsaouras Bus Plaza. Show your valid TAP card at the registration table and save $5 on admission.

SED2014 will also feature the 1st Annual Global Health Symposium on Youth Engagement with prominent policy and research leaders such as Senator Kevin de Leon, Wm. Jahmal Miller, Deputy Director of CDPH-Office of Health Equity to name a few.

Get to Día de los Muertos celebrations around Los Angeles with Metro

Check out these fun Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebrations via Metro and get special deals with your TAP card.

Self Help Graphics & Art’s 41st Annual Día de los Muertos Exhibition will be held at LURNCorazon del Pueblo, Hardware Studio, and Casa 0101 from Oct. 23 through Nov. 29. On Sunday, Nov. 2, their Día de los Muertos celebration is also the end point of the Metro Art Day of the Dead tour. Show your valid TAP card and save 10% on art purchases during the events. (Metro Gold Line to Pico/Aliso Station)

Grand Park will have Día de los Muertos altars on display from Oct. 25 through Nov. 2. Drop by noche de ofrenda (night of offerings) on Oct. 25 and receive a free admission pass for a future visit to the Museum of Latin American Art at the Grand Park booth by showing your TAP card. (Metro Red/Purple Line to Civic Center/Grand Park Station)

East LA Civic Center will host Día de los Muertos festivities on Nov. 1 and 2. Activities include an altar decorating contest, live entertainment, food vendors and more. Show your valid TAP card at the Parks and Recreation booth and receive a free fan. Metro riders can also receive a free drink with purchase at SoCal Burgers Chill & Grill Restaurant on Nov. 2. (Metro Gold Line to East LA Civic Center Station)

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Eat Shop Play Crenshaw at Taste of Soul

The 9th Annual Taste of Soul Family Festival continues until 7 p.m. tonight. While you’re there, make sure to stop in at Metro’s Eat Shop Play Crenshaw pavilion to grab some shade and check out the offerings of local businesses affected by the LAX/Crenshaw Line construction.

See the brief video below for some of the sights and sounds from earlier this afternoon:

The event began at 10 a.m. and is being held on Crenshaw Boulevard between Stocker Street and Rodeo Road, a short walk south from the Expo/Crenshaw Station on the Metro Expo Line.

Your Friday Send-off: Fall Out Boy – Immortals

Say what you will about Disney, but they sure do know how to make money. I can’t wait to fork over some cash next month to watch Big Hero 6. In the meantime, here’s the first song off the movie’s soundtrack.

If enjoying music on bus or train, please remember to use your headphones. And if you have transit playlist song recs, leave them in the comments or tweet them at us @metrolosangeles!

Bonus track after the jump: Meghan Trainor – Lips Are Moving

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