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L.A. light rail takes a big step into the San Gabriel Valley

June 27, 2010 |  9:34 am

Officials on Saturday broke ground for an extension of the Gold Line light-rail system from Pasadena to Azusa. The line, scheduled for completion in 2014, would bring L.A. County's rail network far into the San Gabriel Valley, offering links to downtown Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley and as far as away as Long Beach.

Real estate developers and politicians are hoping the line will pave the way for some new residential and commercial developments in the cities.

Much of their enthusiasm centers around so-called transit-oriented developments — the idea that local economies thrive when public transportation, housing and retail are offered within the same space. Some of these developments would be denser than typical suburbs.

"There's something about rail that creates an anchor for economic development," said Michael Cano, transportation deputy to Los Angeles County Supervisor and MTA board member Michael Antonovich.

Major developments have been built near some parts of L.A.'s rail lines. Numerous mixed-use residential and retail projects have risen along the Red Line in Hollywood and North Hollywood, as well as along the Purple Line on Wilshire Boulevard. Long Beach also has  developed retail centers around the Blue Line.

But others parts of the rail network have yet to attract significant development. And it remains unclear how much of the cities' grand plans will come to fruition — particularly if the real estate market remains in a slump.

Read the full story here: "First Phase of Gold Line Extension Begins Saturday."

-- Sam Allen in Monrovia

Photo: Los Angeles Times