After years of searching for funding for the project, the Gold Line Foothill Extension Authority has secured money to begin the eastward extension of the rail line to Azusa, with construction slated to begin in June of next year, with a goal completing the project by sometime in 2013. The extension will travel from Sierra Madre Villa station, the line’s current northeast terminus, to Arcadia, Monrovia and eventually to the Citrus College campus in Azusa.
Two weeks ago, Monrovians celebrated the project’s recent gains, but before passengers can begin boarding the train at Monrovia’s depot, the City of Arcadia has some hurdles of its own to surmount.
In Arcadia, the new Gold Line station site will be located at the intersection of First Avenue and Santa Clara Street, said Phil Wray, Assistant Development Services Director and City Engineer for the City of Arcadia.
“It will be a block north of Huntington Drive, [a location] we feel is very close to the heart of the downtown,” Wray said. “It is an ideal location to plan around for the future for compatible uses to help make that an active center.”
The Gold Line extension will follow the alignment of an old railroad, which crosses the freeway just west of the Santa Anita Avenue and Baldwin Avenue interchange, he said.
The Gold Line Authority plans to construct a bridge at the freeway intersection where the previous railroad bridge once stood in the early 1990s but was removed due to concerns over potential earthquake hazards.
According to Wray, plans for the bridge are underway, and will require cooperation between the Gold Line Authority and the state department.
One of the concerns in Arcadia was the grade separation on Santa Anita Avenue that was initially planned to be a street level crossing and gate, Wray said.
After concerns of the traffic and delays it would cause on Santa Anita Avenue, the city put an initiative together to raise $8 million, in addition to the $5 million set aside for the bridge, to fund the separation.
The grade separation aspect of the project will include leveling out the hump in Santa Anita Ave. where the current train tracks are, then constructing retaining and sound walls under the new bridge.
Next, the tracks will return to street level across First Avenue before crossing Second Avenue via the bridge already in place at Huntington Drive.
Parking will of course be an issue, so a new two-level garage will be constructed on the northwest corner of First Avenue and Santa Clara, adjacent to REI and just south of the 210 freeway. Initially, the garage will be able to accommodate 800 vehicles, though the possibility of expanded the garage by adding two additional levels is still on the table.
“A lot is going to be happening over the next six months and we have got a lot of work to do to make sure we protect the interests of our citizens,” Wray said. “Our staff will be spending a lot of time on it.”
Just one stop eastward, Monrovia officials said they are very excited about the fact that the project is finally moving forward.
“We’re planning a lot of development in that area,” said Public Information Office Dick Singer. “It doesn’t depend on the Gold Line, but it is going to be enhanced by the Gold Line. Both the transportation and economic development benefits are very exciting.”
The funding will come from Measure R, a half cent sales tax that was passed by voters in November of 2008 and created an earmark of $735 million for transportation projects. However, the Gold Line Authority faced challenges of when the money would come in, and how to divide it over multiple projects.
Singer said the greatest challenge was from the City of Los Angeles who wanted to use as much money as possible from Measure R to fund an extension of the Red Line subway along Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica, the so-called “Subway to the Sea”.
“That’s been our greatest competition,” Singer said. “It looks now that we have an agreement, and that we can get both of them built.”