Metro’s Gold Line Foothill Extension project passed its 50 percent completion mark this week. It connects Los Angeles to the San Gabriel Valley, where the environment is expected to change as a result.
“When the project is done and the economy rebounds, you’re going to see a huge amount of growth around each of the stations in the future,” said Habib F. Balian, CEO of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, the agency behind the project.
As an example of the project's potential, Balian said to look at Pasadena, where the Gold Line currently stops and where there has been substantial redevelopment since the line opened in 2003.
"Nearly 2,300 new residential units; 750,000 square feet of newly constructed retail and commercial space. ... Even using a conservative ratio, the transit-oriented development projects in Pasadena along the Gold Line have already generated more than $1 billion for the region," Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said at Metro Gold Line's 10th anniversary in July 2013, according to a press release.
Since the project broke ground, residential areas like Rosedale in Azusa and commercial businesses have developed near the route extension.
“When you come out here [to the San Gabriel Valley], you’re going to see nothing but opportunity,” Balian said.
The $1 billion project connects Metro’s Gold Line from Pasadena 11.5 miles out to Azusa. It’s funded by Measure R, which was approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 and projected to bring in $40 billion over 30 years.
It’s a big project, not only in cost, but size — bringing in six new light rail stations and accompanying parking amenities to Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale and Azusa. The completed project will include two-dozen new and rebuilt bridges, 14 street crossings and a 24-acre “operations campus” to keep up to 84 light-rail vehicles overnight.
Cities like Monrovia are looking at the extension as an opportunity and planning redevelopment projects along the route.
“We saw the opportunity; we saw the potential that [the Gold Line] created when it came up from L.A.,” says Alexis Bakofsky, public information officer with Monrovia.
With $25 million from grants, Measure R and state funding, the city plans to develop the area around the historic Santa Fe depot into a public space called Station Square where the Gold Line will stop in Monrovia, Bakofsky said.
“No other city along the extension has this opportunity, so we intend to take full advantage of it,” Bakofsky said. “Once it’s done, it will end up being one of the largest public works projects in the city’s history.”
The improvements in Monrovia are still in the design phase, and Bakofsky said it would be up to private investors and developers to realize the full potential of space along the light rail.
The Gold Line extension to Azusa, which began construction in June 2010, is expected to be completed in Sept. 2015 when it will be turned over to Metro — but it doesn't end there. Foothill Extension Authority officials say there are plans to extend the route to Montclair and the Ontario International Airport.