Nearly 700 people came to Citrus College on Saturday to mark the ground-breaking of a 12.3-mile extension of the Gold Line from Glendora to Montclair, the final leg of what is already the longest light-rail line in Los Angeles County.
The extension, which is expected to take nine years to complete, will add new stations to the Metro Gold Line system in the cities of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair.
The US$1.5bn project is the first funded by Measure M, a one-half cent transportation tax passed by county voters 13 months ago, with a small portion coming from state Cap and Trade funds generated by polluting industries.
San Bernardino County will pay for the Claremont-to-Montclair segment.
The first three years of work on the project will involve “relocating utilities” and shoring up engineering plans for the project.
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.
“Funding the second phase of the Gold Line Extension is the perfect example of what we’re trying to achieve through our agency’s comprehensive transportation plan,” Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington said.
“As we make transit more available in new communities, we are changing the face of Southern California and creating an infrastructure inheritance for our children and grandchildren.”
The Foothill Gold Line Extension is one of 28 major Metro projects that are being pushed for completion before the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Los Angeles.
It also hoped that invested in rail will help to combat the city’s notorious traffic jams.
Habib Balian, CEO of the Foothill Gold Line, said more and more people want an alternative to sitting in traffic.
"There's folks who have cars, who have the ability to own a car, but they don't want to drive that car anymore, and I think that's what we're seeing to trend that way," Balian said.
A Beacon Economics report released earlier this month predicted the extension’s construction would bring a string of economic benefits to the region, including nearly 17,000 jobs, more than US$2.6bn in economic output, more than US$1bn in labour income and nearly US$40mn in tax revenues for Los Angeles County.
Once passenger service begins, the report predicted the extension will generate an annual benefit to the county of more than US$52mn in economic output, US$17mn in labour income and nearly US$800,000 in tax revenues, while generating 277 jobs.
"When L.A County voters passed Measure M last year, they gave us an unprecedented mandate to create hundreds of thousands of jobs and build one of the most robust public transit systems in the world," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Chair of the Metro Board.
"Now, it's our turn to deliver, and that work starts today, with this promising new phase of the Metro Gold Line."