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Commuter rail from Pasadena to Azusa wins funding

March 25, 2010 |  3:31 pm

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority board on Thursday approved $690 million in funding for the extension of the Gold Line in San Gabriel Valley, marking a significant step forward for the project.

The money would go toward extending the light rail line 11.3 miles from its current terminus at Sierra Madre Villa in Pasadena to Azusa. The approval by the board means the project is on track to break ground in June and begin service in 2014.

The Gold Line extension is one of several major rail projects being planned for L.A. County in the next few years, including an extension of the Expo Line into Santa Monica, a new line down Crenshaw Boulevard into the South Bay and an extension of the Eastside Gold Line.

There has been much debate about which projects should get funding, and L.A. County Supervisor Mike Antonovich said it’s important that a line outside the City of Los Angeles got funding.

“We need to have a regional transportation network and not one that just favors one city,” he said. “Los Angeles has cannibalized the funds, and this is the first time we have been able to bring ‘regional’ to the front of the plate instead of the back of the bus.” 

Antonovich said the extension -- with stops in Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa -- would move the region toward a “truly regional transit system.” The six cities are looking at creating a high-tech corridor and build housing and multi-use commercial projects along the line, which also parallels the 210 Freeway.

The extension would bring the county’s commuter rail network farther into the San Gabriel Valley. Planners would like the extend the Gold Line all the way to Ontario International Airport in San Bernardino County. With the Thursday vote, $690 million in revenues from Measure R will be transferred to the Gold Line Construction Authority.

Measure R was the 2008 voter-approved measure to increase the sales tax by half a cent for 30 years in order to raise $40 billion to construct specific mass transit projects. The funding effectively moves the scheduled opening to 2014 from 2017, Antonovich said, because it allows for the construction authority to seek bids for faster construction in a private-public partnership.

The three-year project would generate 6,900 jobs, a third of which would be construction-related, according to the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corp. The second phase of the project would add stations in Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair and is estimated to cost around $600 million to $700 million.

-- My-Thuan Tran

Map: MTA