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Preparations Begin for Iconic Bridge Construction

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Plans for Gold Line Freeway Overpass Bridge are Soon to be Unveiled

Preparations are officially underway for the construction of a new bridge across the Foothill Freeway, a structure that will serve as an iconic gateway to the San Gabriel Valley. Once completed, the bridge will connect the freeway’s existing Metro Gold Line tracks to the proposed Foothill Gold Line Extension which will pull first into Arcadia and Monrovia’s waiting stations before winding its way all the way to Montclair. God and Metro willing, of course.

To generate public interest in the project, the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority created a competition encouraging qualified artists and engineers to submit design proposals for the new bridge.

Artists from around the county were invited to examine the site, and a live feed video teleconference was held for the benefit of out-of-area contest participants. To qualify for the contest, artists were required to demonstrate proof of prior work on a public agency or infrastructure project amounting to more than $5 million.

The 15 architectural firms deemed qualified submitted design proposals to an 11-member planning committee comprised of representatives from Caltrans and the cities of Arcadia, Azusa, Claremont, Duarte, Glendora, Irwindale, LaVerne, Monrovia and Pomona (areas that the Foothill Extension will pass through, naturally).

The committee will select the winning entry on July 22 and forward the design to the Construction Authority’s board of directors, which will oversee the construction of the future bridge.

The architects who win the competition will be allotted a $200,000 budget and granted the aid of an engineering firm selected by the Construction Authority. Construction costs for the bridge itself are expected to total between $20 and $25 million.

Though actual construction of the bridge is not slated to begin until next summer, preliminary work is already in progress. On June 30, workers began drilling and taking soil samples from areas adjacent to the freeway lanes and the right-of-way by Newcastle Park in preparation for the 739-foot structure.

The soil will be analyzed in a laboratory to help workers prepare for the construction of the foundation, scheduled to commence June 2010. Additional preparations for the bridge will be completed over the next few months.

The bridge, as part of the Foothill Extension approved under last November’s Measure R ballot initiative, will permit the Metro tracks to cross over the eastbound lanes of the 210 Foothill Freeway on their way to Arcadia and beyond. What’s more, the bridge will serve not only as a means of transportation, but also, it is intended, as a San Gabriel Valley landmark.

Measure R, which Los Angeles County voters approved last November, went into effect July 1 of this year. In response to county-wide complaints of poor public transportation, the measure allocated $40 billion to the development of local highway and transit projects.

Metro officials hope that the 24-mile Foothill Extension will offer a timely and convenient route for commuters, conserve gasoline, and reduce air pollution for the San Gabriel Valley, as well as the rest of Southern California.

Before work on the actual extension can proceed, the Metro board must approve the Long Range Transportation Plan on July 23. The plan will allow the Construction Authority to enter a public-private partnership, enabling the construction of the first half of the Foothill Extension, which will span approximately 11 miles from Pasadena to Azusa.

If the board passes the plan, work on the new tracks will commence the following June, providing much-needed jobs to workers heavily hit by the economic crisis and strengthening hopes that the San Gabriel Valley will be the home of a functional Foothill Extension, complete with the finished iconic bridge, by 2013.

By Nuria Mathog

July 16, 2009

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