On the ground photos of construction work on the Gold Line Foothill Extension

The folks at Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority hosted a media tour Thursday of the light rail project that will extend the Gold Line for 11.5 miles from eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border with new stations in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa and a sprawling light rail maintenance campus in Monrovia.

The project is halfway finished and Metro’s latest forecast calls for an opening in early 2016 (the Construction Authority will turn the project over to Metro, which will operate it and determine the date of opening). Already station foundations are poured, the BNSF tracks east of Duarte have been moved to accommodate freight trains, rails for the Gold Line are either in the ground or being moved into place and bridges are complete or work is finishing up.

In other words, it’s starting to look like a light rail line (check out the aerial photos of the project we posted last week and this article in the Pasadena Star News featuring the back of my head!). When both this project and the Regional Connector are complete, there will be continuous light rail track for 45 miles from Azusa to Long Beach, not to mention the Expo Line to downtown Santa Monica. Amazeballs!

A couple of observations on the Foothill Extension project:

•With parking available at the new stations, I’m guessing the Gold Line will be a lot more convenient for riders who live east of Pasadena and who had to cope with the always-constipated traffic on the 210 freeway and then compete with spaces at the Sierra Madre Villa station parking garage. It should also be a quick train ride for many; the Foothill Extension, for example, is completely grade-separated between Sierra Madre Villa and the Arcadia station and there are other stretches of track with few, if any, street crossings.

•There are going to be some awesome development and redevelopment opportunities along the Foothill Extension, which is following old freight tracks that mostly went through industrial areas. There will be stations in downtown Arcadia and downtown Azusa and the city of Monrovia has been planning improvements, open space and development near their station for quite some time — it’s important because the tracks are about a mile south of Monrovia’s eminently pleasant downtown. Check out the renderings above.

As with any new rail line in our area, it remains to be seen how the rail-community interface comes together (I can easily write the same thing about any of the rail projects thus far in L.A. County). What’s important right now, I think, is that the rail side is coming together right now, courtesy of the Measure R sales tax increase approved by L.A. County voters in 2008.

Many thanks to the Construction Authority for the tour last week and the tip about Canyon City Barbecue, which I nominate for an appearance on “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” Also, here’s a screen grab of the latest interactive construction map from the Authority; click on the map to visit the interactive version.


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