Foothill agreement delayed

The Board of Director’s Measure R committee delayed voting until next month on an agreement with the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority over how to transfer funds between Metro and the Authority.

The Authority is a separate agency set up to build the first phase of the Foothill Extension between Pasadena and Azusa. Authority officials are unhappy because they are gunning for a June groundbreaking on the project and say that’s in jeopardy without an agreement.

Board Member Zev Yaroslavsky said he just got the agreement on Wednesday. “There are a lot of unanswered questions in this report,” he said, specifically mentioning the issue of whether the agreement commits Metro to spending money on phase 2b of the Foothill Extension from Azusa to Montclair.

Committee chair and Board Member Pam O’Connor said that she didn’t even know the item was going to be on the agenda. Meanwhile, Metro CEO Art Leahy told the committee that a delay wouldn’t impact the project and that the issues could be worked out.

Foothill Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian said afterward that a delay could mean pushing the groundbreaking on the project from June to July. The first structure to be built is a bridge in Arcadia that takes tracks from the middle of the 210 to south of the freeway and he can’t solicit bids from construction firms without an agreement in place.

This is all a long way of saying that the item will be back for the committee to review in March.

One other thought on politics. The reason this is important is that San Gabriel Valley officials have fought for many years for the Foohill Extension. Metro is currently going to Washington to secure federal funds for a number of transit projects. Squabbling in L.A. County over this project — which some members of Congress are closely watching — or any other project is not the way to present a unified front in Washington.