Foothill Extension chugs along

By Cameron Wisdom | Staff Writer

The construction authority responsible for the Foothill Gold Line Extension announced in February that the project has surpassed the halfway-point of completion.

The 11.5 mile light-rail extension of Metro’s Gold Line that will stretch from Pasadena to Azusa will serve several communities within the Citrus College district upon completion.

Funded by Los Angeles County’s Measure R (a half-cent increase in sales tax over the course of 30 years), the extension project is slated to cost approximately $751 million.

Contractors broke ground in June 2010 and are expected to finish the extension by September 2015.

Upon completion, The Metro Transit Authority will conduct tests on the system and then determine when it will be ready for public use.

The project will connect stations in the Foothill communities of Azusa, Irwindale, Duarte, Monrovia, Arcadia and Pasadena directly by rail to several stations and districts within the city of Los Angeles such as Chinatown, Union Station, Little Tokyo and East Los Angeles.

Several prominent figures in the communities impacted by the project have given positive feedback concerning the project.

“I am confident that the project is more than halfway complete in our city, and I applaud the Construction Authority and their contractor for a remarkably smooth job so far,” said Joseph Rocha, Mayor of Azusa.

Rocha added he was impressed with the enormous undertaking by the construction crews that moved miles of freight track into a new position while also rebuilding nine rail bridges and completing new street crossings across the city.

The extensive level of construction underway has not been without frustration brought on by the traffic delays caused by street closures.

“Monrovia residents are patiently accepting the challenges brought by construction, because we all eagerly anticipate the Gold Line arriving in our city,”  said Mary Ann Lutz, mayor of Monrovia.

Locally, one of two stations planned in Azusa is under construction just northwest of Citrus College at the end of Citrus Ave. The Azusa-Citrus station will serve the eastern portion of Azusa as well as Citrus College, Azusa Pacific University and the Rosedale master-planned community currently under development. A 200-space parking facility is also under construction adjacent to the station.

Further construction is currently being conceptualized to extend the project east of Azusa to the communities of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont, and Montclair.

Citrus College professor of ceramics and fine art, Michael Hillman, was chosen among many other artists to design the station art for the Glendora station that is still currently in the planning phase.

The Glendora Station Design & Art Review (SDAR) committee chose Hillman for his design that paid homage to Glendora’s historic orange groves.  The design includes a vibrant color scheme and implements the atmosphere and artifacts uniquely associated with the community’s iconic fruit.

“The title of my project is ‘Glendora Home: A Slice of Sunshine.’ Glendora Home refers to a brand of oranges that were grown and packed here in Glendora; a slice of sunshine refers to a slogan used to promote the orange industry,” said Hillman.

Hillman added that his design reflects his feelings for his community and that his proposal will draw from the history, culture, and landscape that will encourage reminiscing among locals and travellers alike.

The expansion project comes at a time when more Americans are utilizing public transportation than any time since 1956 according the American Public Transportation Association.

According to the Metro Transit Authority, the Gold Line had 1.16 million boardings in January 2014 alone, an increase from 1.09 million boardings in January 2013.

Considering the LA metro area’s world-famous traffic, riders of the Gold Line will be able to commute throughout the foothill portion of the San Gabriel Valley to the cities of Pasadena and Los Angeles without worry of gridlock.

Students operating on a budget can also enjoy the fixed and competitive fares offered to travel from station to station.

The one-way fare is currently set at $1.50 and allows riders to board and exit at any station along the route.

The Gold Line makes use of reloadable fare cards known as TAP cards that can also be used to transfer for a small fee to any Metro bus lines as well as the bus lines operated by Foothill Transit, allowing riders more flexibility and ease of access in using public transportation throughout large portions of Los Angeles County.

The expansion is expected to have a positive impact in each of the communities it will service upon completion.

Mark A. Breceda, the mayor of  Irwindale, stated that he believes reaching 50 percent completion helps citizens and workers of his community realize that help is on the way.

“Soon they will be able to utilize the new rail line to get to and from work and allow our city to grow in new and more sustainable ways,” Breceda said.