Gold Line Foothill Extension update

A rendering of the bridge that will carry Foothill Extension tracks from the center of the 210 freeway over the eastbound lanes. The old bridge was demolished after being damaged in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake.

Here’s the latest update on planning and pre-construction efforts on the Gold Line Foothill Extension project, which will extend the Gold Line from Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border adjacent to Citrus College. The Foothill Extension is a project funded by Measure R, the sales tax increase approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

The update is from Habib Balian, the CEO of the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency that is building the line, which will be operated by Metro when completed:

Before the year comes to a close, I want to update you on progress made this month critical to our schedule.

First and foremost is the outstanding cooperation we have received from Caltrans. This month, the agency approved the Phase 2A (Pasadena to Azusa) Project Study Report/Project Report (PSR/PR) and Type Selection Study, essential documents for the progression of the Iconic Freeway Structure (IFS) and overall Phase 2A project. The PSR/PR, a detailed technical document required by Caltrans when working in their right-of-way, was approved for all elements of Phase 2A including construction of the IFS; upgrades to existing bridges, underpasses, and the I-210/I-605 Interchange; conduit laying; fence replacement and other key elements. Caltrans’ “Bridge Type Selection Committee” approved the Authority’s “Type Selection Study” after a substantive meeting in Sacramento with the Authority and the Skanska USA team to discuss the engineering, technical studies, and preliminary design submitted for the IFS. These approvals not only keep the IFS on schedule to begin construction in June, but also keep the entire Phase 2A alignment on schedule as we prepare to select a design-builder in the coming months.

Progress was also made this month, with the tremendous cooperation and leadership of Metro, on the critical agreement between Metro and BNSF in which BNSF agrees to relinquish use of the rail right-of-way west of Irwindale and agrees to share the corridor with the Gold Line east of Irwindale. Both parties approved in principle the terms of the agreement. Now their legal counsel is working to draw up the formal documents for signature within the next few weeks. As you may recall, obtaining this agreement is one of two necessary steps before substantial funding for Phase 2A is transferred to the Construction Authority.

As we gain momentum toward award of the Phase 2A Alignment contract in the Spring, we are establishing evaluation committees to evaluate and score the proposals (which are due January 27). Through this process, we will ensure that the team selected will provide the Authority with the best possible product at a great value and meet our high expectations.

Finally, as part of our overall goal for the project, the Authority will host scoping meetings for the Azusa to Montclair phase of the project (Phase 2B), which is currently undergoing environmental review. Many of the details about our progress and upcoming scoping meetings can be found on the Authority’s new website, launched last week ( I encourage you to visit the site, view one of the new project videos or use the interactive maps to find information about the project or corridor cities, and more.

The Gold Line Authority Team looks ahead with great excitement to the coming year. For now – Merry Christmas, happy holidays and a Happy New Year.

The Journey Continues,

Habib F. Balian

22 replies

  1. I think having some lines run along freeways, which are, for better or for worse, arterial corridors for movement, is ok as long as the beginning and end points hit destinations or some in between and if there is easy access to the stations. So yes, its more of an implementation issue rather than just being on the freeway or not. The CTA blue line in chicago for example runs in the middle of the I90 for part of its route but not the whole time. It has high ridership and it still hits neighborhoods well in addition to the freeway center stations and the line serves as an important link in the system to the northwest neighborhoods and ohare airport. It is easily identifiable and it also is protected from much of the noise and pollution of the freeway with glass barriers between the tracks and the freeway lanes. The gold line is somewhat similar in the sense that it hits major destinations like downtown la, chinatown, old town Pasadena etc. while still being able to serve further out neighborhoods quickly with this extension (although a Colorado blvd. subway would have made more sense in downtown Pasadena for ridership sake.) The suburban nature of the neighborhoods beyond sierra madre villa means that park and ride is common so freeway stations make sense in some areas so long as they are accessible. TOD should always be promoted as much as possible but not every station is necessarily going to work for it 100 percent of the time. This will serve as a true rapid transit line because our LRVs (Breda and Siemens) are able to go up to 66 mph which is an appropriate speed for HRT/LRT and the station spacing on this extension. Unfortunately it may still be restricted to lower speeds on RR rows which still makes no sense because commuter rail can cross faster than that so maybe that will be addressed for the better. Either way this will be a valuable extension of an ever- improving rail line here and implementing it well is the most important thing. The speed is also especially important for this.

  2. Why do people keep saying the Green Line is a failure? I ride it all the time and it’s always packed or very full. Also, the bus connection to LAX works great. I use it all the time to go to the airport. I would suspect that those who say the Green line doesn’t work never use it.

  3. I hate the design of the bridge. I rather it be steel concrete. Maybe something sleek, minimalist, and industrial yet modern. Why does it have to look like some kid made impressions in sand on a beach with woven baskets?

    Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the Gold Line extension. Finally light-rail going into San Gabriel Valley. I actually like bridges, and love the idea of the rail line being a bridge over the freeway, what I don’t like is the actual architectural design of it.

  4. @Guy in Glendale

    Freeways already are above or below grade, meaning they usually have bridges above or under them that can be easily converted to a train station without using on/off ramps.

    Get rid of the carpool lane one each side and run a track through them. Entrance and exits to stations can be done by the existing bridges, overpasses and underpasses.

    Besides, there’s not much you can do in LA right now. Building rail with new infrastructure takes years of planning, mitigation, studies after studies that end up with tremendous cost overruns ending up with a half-assed product (Gold Line, Green Line, etc).

    It’d be much cheaper to just build rail using existing infrastructure: on top of our our freeways. If you can convert even 25% of the traffic jams on the 405 or the 710 to use rail on top of the freeways that’d save a lot.

    Plus, it’s free form advertisement: you’re stuck on the 405 and you see the train zipping by, most people will say, fuh-geddaboutit, I’m taking the train tomorrow.

  5. The Green Line still carries a good amount of people and if you can stand the noise on the platforms, it’s actually pretty speedy. Extensions to Norwalk and LAX are a no-brainer, though.

  6. Yes, I agree, world class cities deserve world class transportation. In fact, part of them making them world class is how the people in them are able to get around.


    People stuck at home for fear of traffic congestion is a sign that a city lacks vitality. People need options. Good options.

  7. @Guy from Tokyo, it’s not as though Metro planners said, “Gee, the 105 Freeway would be a great place to stick a rail line.” The Green Line was planning by lawsuit. When the 105 was being built, several cities where it ran sued, and the product was a consent decree that mandated a local transit project as a form of mitigation.

    The Green Line was built in order to get the 105 Freeway built.

  8. Freeways and on/off ramps are huge barriers to walking. Keep rail away from freeways!! Pedestrians hate walking anywhere near them. Put rail where the people are… More “green lines” is a recipe mediocrity. A world class city deserves world class tranportation and rail!!

    As far as the goldline bridge it looks sort of like a “basket”.. can you just build something that functions and wont look out of style in 10 years. (“Umbrella shade structures” at Little Tokyo Station is the same bad style)


  9. I really enjoy the construction updates. Pictures say a 1,000 words too.

    Btw, I like the 5 things on your mind about transportation, although I might disagree with yours, that difference inspired me to think of my own. I even started a list.

  10. The Green Line is a perfect example of poor planning that’s why it doesn’t work, not because it’s on the freeway; it goes from nowhere to nowhere. If it linked directly to LAX or to Amtrak Norwalk it’d make sense but it doesn’t.

  11. I used to think that rail lines should be built on freeways and then I saw the light… They don’t work. Look at the Green Line. You would think more people would use it more but they don’t.

    The more distance you make people walk to use mass transit or the farther you build rails away from where people live and work, the less people use mass transit. Just look at recent issues like the Century City subway stop location and the LA Central Library station deleted from the Regional Connector project – Those issues will result in less people using those rail lines.

    Rail lines built on freeways just doesn’t work!

  12. Building a rail on top our most congested freeways has been a topic of mine for years.

    I mean, seriously, does it take a rocket scientist to figure out that rail needs to go where people want, and that a great indicator of that is by looking at the traffic jams on the 405 and the 710?

  13. @ Ryan King
    It’s not going to SHARE tracks as that would be unsafe and not reliable due to headway constraints, signaling issues, etc. (look at metrolink), but it would be like the blue line where it shares the corridor using its own tracks that run parallel to the freight tracks.

  14. I think the why we do/don’t ride posts are important because its the best way for metro to see what peoples experiences and suggestions are and how to improve the system based on it. After all, we are the people they serve, our input had better matter. Side note, I posted on the survey and the site said it was posted but was never actually posted. I searched and searched, nothing…

    • Connor, are you referring to the Reader Survey? If so, and the site said it was posted, then the results have been sent to us.

      If you’re referring to the Why I Ride/Don’t survey, we’ve also received the results but likely haven’t posted it yet (we’ve received hundreds).

      Fred Camino
      Lifestyle Contributor, The Source

  15. I am not bored with the Metro art posts, they are creative. The posts why people ride or not are important to metro, less so to the readers of this blog, I would think.

    • Tornadoes28 and FDH, if you haven’t done so already please take a moment to share your thoughts about The Source in our 2010 Reader Survey. We’ll be tailoring the blog to the overall feedback we receive, so your input matters.

      A word about Why You Ride/Don’t: many readers of The Source are in fact Metro staff. The Source is integrated into Metro’s intranet, and it’s often the first thing staff members see when they start their day. We’ve heard a lot of positive feedback about the insights they’ve gained from our readers Why I Ride/Don’t stories.

      Fred Camino
      Lifestyle Contributor, The Source

  16. I think I have see a photo from around the late 1950s of a ceremonial groundbreaking for a Whilshire subway. So, by that standard, a 12 to 18 month wait doesn’t seem so bad.

    I too would like to hear more of these sorts of updates, it us in the public get a glimpse why these big projects take so long to build. But keep the art!

  17. I would like to see more construction updates such as these. Personally I don’t enjoy or read all the posts about why some people do or do not ride and I also am bored with the Metro art posts. More posts about Metro news and construction please. Thank you.

  18. Okay great, but the groundbreaking was June 2010. Why hasn’t construction actually started? Everyday that I am stuck on the 210 in traffic, I see ZERO progress. (Heck, the old railroad signal is still standing proudly near the Baldwin Ave. bridge). Even along Duarte Rd., the rails are still there.
    I can pull up rails if you need me to.
    Please build NOW!

    • It was a “ceremonial” groundbreaking, according to Foothill Extension officials. Work on the bridge is supposed to start soon — the contract has been issued. The request for bids for the main part of the line is going out in the spring.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source