A glimpse at the Foothill Extension Gold Line

With construction work slated to begin later this year on the Foothill Extension Gold Line, I’ve been wanting to go out and snap a few photos of what’s there now. The Extension will run between the Gold Line’s current terminus in eastern Pasadena and the Azusa/Glendora border.

As with nearly all transit projects, it takes some imagination to bridge the gap between seeing what’s along the old freight line now and envisioning what will be there within the next few years. The following photos are a narrow view of the rail right-of-way before construction begins. I’ve tried to provide more info about what’s planned in the captions; there is also an interactive map with station plans on the Foothill Extension Construction Authority’s website.

I also encourage you to take a look at this Google map that shows the line and the station locations.

This is looking east from the current end-of-the-line at Sierra Madre Villa. From here, the train will run along the old rail right-of-way in the middle of the 210 freeway before crossing a new bridge to the south side of the 210.

This is the view looking west at the Arcadia station at First and Santa Clara. The city’s downtown area is adjacent to the station but out of view in this photo (it’s to the left of the photo).

This is the old Santa Fe Railroad station in Monrovia. Needless to say, it’s fallen into a bit of disrepair. The city has plans for a massive development around the old station, with hundreds of residential units and some commercial development planned. It’s about a 3/4-mile walk north on adjacent Myrtle Avenue to reach the city’s nicely refurbished downtown district, where some nice-looking apartments and condos have been built to help densify the area.

The Duarte station will be on Duarte Road, across the street from the entrance to City of Hope. I’m not sure what this old shelter is — I’m guessing it was a bus stop at one time. Along the north side of the tracks (not seen in this photo) are homes and some warehouses.

The Irwindale station is on a section of track still being used by Burlington Northern Santa Fe. The station sits below an overpass carrying Irwindale Avenue. Immediately to the west is the Coors-Miller Brewery and to the south is a vast warehouse and industrial park district.

Another old Santa Fe depot — this one is in slightly less disrepair than the one in Monrovia. They’re both cool buildings deserving of a fix-up. The Gold Line station is between Azusa and Alameda avenues and is next to a city park and Azusa’s downtown district. The city has encouraged new residential buildings nearby and to the very right of the photo a sign for a new Target store under construction can be seen. It will likely be the region’s most rail-friendly Target.

This photo isn’t really fair but this is a difficult area to capture because the tracks are set back from Citrus Avenue enough to pose problems for anyone with a camera. The view is looking east toward Glendora and Mt. Baldy. This stretch would be included in the second (and unfunded) phase of the Foothill Extension between Azusa and Montclair. What you can’t see in the photo is actually more important than what you can see. Across Citrus Avenue sits Citrus College and Azusa Pacific University. The Foothill Extension will allow students from both institutions to have a fast one-seat ride into Pasadena and downtown Los Angeles.

A few of my impressions of this line:

1. As with all transit projects, it’s going to be very important for planners in the Foothill cities to ramp up the pedestrian and cycling connections to all the stations.

2. I really like the new residential buildings that have gone up near the Monrovia and downtown Azusa stations. And there’s room for more.

3. Once the Foothill Extension is up and running, the views of the San Gabriel Mountains from the train are going to be awesome.