Clearance testing begins today for Gold Line Foothill Extension project

After four years of construction, the Gold Line Foothill Extension project will reach a key milestone this morning: for the first time ever, a light rail vehicle will make its way down the tracks as part of clearance testing.

What’s a clearance test? As the name implies, Metro will be towing the light rail vehicle along the new Foothill Extension tracks to ensure that there’s adequate space between the rail car and structures along the tracks — poles that support the wires, bridges, passenger platforms and anything else. It’s a required test for all new rail lines.

“It’s exciting and we’re one step closer to opening the project for the public,” said Metro CEO Art Leahy. “There’s a lot more work to be done but we’re getting closer.”

Leahy said that pre-revenue testing is expected to begin in 10 months and that the project will likely open in spring 2016. “People will look up and see the train and be excited today,” he said, adding “trains are great to watch but people always need to be careful around the tracks because trains are big, heavy and they take time to come to a stop.”

He also thanked the public for voting for Measure R, the half-cent sales tax increase that is paying for the Gold Line Foothill Extension project, as well as many other transit and highway projects across Los Angeles County — including four other rail lines currently under construction.

The Gold Line Foothill project is extending the Gold Line for 11.5 miles from the current terminus at Sierra Madre Villa Station in eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border with six new stations along the way — downtown Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale, downtown Azusa and a final station that will serve Citrus College, Azusa Pacific University, the Rosedale residential development and surrounding neighborhoods. A maintenance yard for Gold Line trains is also being constructed in Monrovia.

The project is being built by the independent Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority. Once construction is done, the project will be handed over to Metro for testing and operator training.

As the clearance testing makes its way east later today, I’ll add more photos.

Video of the test train in San Gabriel Valley:


25 replies

  1. Sure, the citizens of Arcadia were smart enough to tax themselves for a bridge; however, they should have been smarter and taxed themselves to keep the line on an elevated alignment as it diagonally bisects an intersection!! The station could have been built directly ABOVE the intersection, with entrances/exits at both ends of the station. Sure, a mezzanine might have to be built, but anything beats a diagonal at-grade rail crossing through what will soon become an extremely busy intersection!

    • Hi Craig;

      FWIW, I really like the street-level station. I think it will be easier and faster for riders to reach the train. The intersection on the eastern side of the train certainly gets some traffic but I know the area well and it’s not crazy busy in the way that nearby Santa Anita and Huntington are. I think the intersection will be able to handle the street crossing – it’s really a smaller version of the crossing next to the South Pas station.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  2. This is great news for the Gold Line but when will testing begin on the Expo Line to Santa Monica Pier? I hope to see service to Santa Monica by Summer 2015!! Why does it take your construction crew forever to finish this Expo Phase 2 project? Let’s get this train from Culver City to Santa Monica up and running already!!

    • Hi Lance,

      The Expo Line to Santa Monica is scheduled to open in the first half of 2016. Construction is still being completed (just as it is on the Gold Line) but I expect there will be a similar clearance test on the near horizon.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

  3. Love that bridge over Santa Anita Avenue in Arcadia. I wish Metro would bridge every street crossing along it’s rail lines. It’s always a major disappointment when a train has to wait for a light to turn green. I also would feel more comfortable not having to share the crossing with reckless drivers

    • The residents of Arcadia were smart enough to vote YES to tax themselves to pay for that bridge.

  4. Will the train be operating under its own power during the days of testing after the first test?

    • As there is still a lot of work taking place, most of the line will not be powered up for awhile yet. Until then, there’s the neat rail truck!

      Anna Chen
      Writer, The Source

  5. Meanwhile, Japan coverts an above ground rail to a subway line overnight, does a test run in a few minutes just right before 5:00 AM and the new subway line already starts running few minutes later right after 5:00 AM.

    • You left the part out where that project (the rerouting of the Tokyu Toyoko line) has been under planning, construction, and testing for years, too…

    • Sure, the cutover took just over three hours, but the planning, design, and construction took over eight years…

  6. If there are enough train cars it should be possible to open it in time for the December 2015 shakeup. This would make for better bus/rail coordination. Or, open it up in June 2016 and make bus changes then.

    The issue with the Eastside Gold Line opening, which the area never recovered from, was that bus service on the 30, 31, and 68 were cut before the rail line opened, MTA ran a “Gold Line emulator” bus but then was forced to cancel it east of Indiana station because they were intruding onto Montebello Bus Lines’ turf.

    • Construction is scheduled to be complete in September of next year followed by several months of testing and staff training. December is too early.

      Steve Hymon
      Editor, The Source

    • I monitored the special buses. No one rode them, they ran from downtown to Atlantic almost empty on most trips.

  7. Besides the stupitity of separtrate rail yards for each line why will the Gold Line have two yards?

    • I believe due to the fact that it is one of the longest light-rail lines in the U.S., ranging from East. L.A. all the way to the San Gabriel Valley. Due to the amount of trains and service it’ll provide, Metro probably felt it necessary to install two of these.

    • Due to the existing GL expansion and the new ‘Regional Connector’, ‘which yard’ will serve ‘which lines’ is probably up in the air. The new Montclair yard will probably replace the cramped downtown ‘Midway’ yard and may also complement or replace the Blue Line Long Beach yard depending on how the light rail lines are reconfigured in a few years. More wait and see …

      • A different yard for each line is ridicules and uneconomical. Redundant shops, parts departments and operation staffs. The last five former old MTA, LATL lines ran out of one yard where the Convention center sits today. When all the former LATL lines ran, they only ran out of four divisions and had one Central Maintenance Facility that not only did major repairs and painting but also did major modifications and built a entire group of streetcars when bids proved to be excessive. The Pacific Electric, the largest interurban system in the United States, ran out of six divisions if you count the subway terminal and 6th. and Main Station. Far bigger, did major modifications, provided freight and U.S. Mail service in addition to their passenger service with the last multi-car trains operating to Long Beach in 1960 by the old MTA which was faster than the current high tech Blue Line which operates over much of the same right of way.