After many, many years of planning and advocacy, the Gold Line light rail extension to Claremont and Montclair held a ceremonial groundbreaking before a big crowd this morning at Citrus College in Glendora.
The project will extend the Gold Line east from its current terminus in Azusa for 12.3 miles with new stations in Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona and Claremont. If funding is secured from San Bernardino County, an additional station will be built in Montclair (Metro only funds projects in Los Angeles County).
The first three years following groundbreaking will be spent relocating utilities, hiring the design-build team and finalizing the engineering plans. Major construction — which requires the complicated task of relocating existing freight and Metrolink tracks and systems — is forecast to be completed in 2026 with the extension opening in 2027.
The Gold Line project will provide riders with a fast, high-capacity transit alternative to the congested 210 freeway that cuts across the northern San Gabriel Valley. The line will also provide easy walking, biking or bus connections to nearly two dozen colleges and universities, the L.A. County Fairplex, parks and open space and more.
The nearly $1.5-billion project includes $1 billion in funding from Measure M, the sales tax ballot measure approved by county voters in Nov. 2016. This is the first major Measure M project to break ground and will join several others in the next few years, including the Purple Line Extension’s third phase (between Century City and Westwood) and a new rail station for the Crenshaw/LAX Line and Green Line at LAX.
The project will be built by the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, an independent agency created by the state. When completed, the Authority will hand over the project to Metro, which will operate it as part of the Metro Rail system.
Some other items worth noting:
•Here is the construction timeline for the project:
•To emphasize: one big thing that distinguishes this project from other Metro Rail projects is that tracks serving a freight railroad and Metrolink have to be moved while trains continue to use the tracks. The video below from the Construction Authority has good footage and animation to explain it how that work will be done, beginning at the 1:10 mark:
•The project includes 26 street level crossings and 25 new or modified bridges, including the ones listed below:
•And the ride times…
•There will be parking at each of the six stations. Metro, the Construction Authority and the Foothill Cities are working to determine how much parking is needed based on parking demand models that take into account parking fees. Original plans call for 5,180 spaces, some in shared facilities with Metrolink.
•The project needs an additional $279 million to be built as planned. Metro is working to secure state cap-and-trade funds to fill the shortfall. The Metro Board has also asked Metro to study whether to eliminate the Claremont Metrolink station instead of relocating it, which is a more expensive proposition.
•When done, the Gold Line extension to Claremont and Montclair will connect to a Metro Rail and bus rapid transit system that will be considerably larger than today.
One project of note for all current and future Gold Line riders: the Regional Connector project will allow trains from Azusa — and Claremont and Montclair in the future — to run directly into the heart of downtown Los Angeles. That eliminates the need to transfer to the Red/Purple Line subway at Union Station and will save Gold Line riders several minutes or more in travel time.