At Milestone Signing For Gold Line, Divergent Intentions Show

A paradox of divergent intentions and resolve was on display today just west of the San Bernardino County/Los Angeles County border at Pomona City Hall where the ceremonial signing of the Alignment Design-Build Contract for the 12.3-mile, six-station Foothill Gold Line light rail project from Glendora to Montclair was held.
Some of the region’s civic leaders want the Gold Line project to continue to fruition. Some of the region’s civic leaders want to kill the undertaking before it crosses into San Bernardino County.
The $2.1 billion project represents the second rail transportation project linking Downtown Los Angeles with the Inland Empire, one which upon its eventual completion will augment the existing MetroLink system, which spans from Union Station in Los Angeles to San Bernardino. MetroLink runs on a south-lying rail line. The Gold Line traverses Los Angeles County north of where MetroLink runs, coming away from Union Station northward before heading east across the San Gabriel Foothill communities.
There was considerable enthusiasm this morning as the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority met publicly to formalize the contract with the joint venture team of Kiewit-Parsons for the $805.6 million project to complete nine miles of track from Glendora to Pomona, with a two-year contract option to complete the full project to Montclair for a total contract amount of $1,186.9 million if additional funds are secured by October 2021.
That is a big if. While for years San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, in the form of what was formerly called SANBAG, the acronym for San Bernardino Associated Governments, had signaled it was on board with the project, that course abruptly changed last month. At the September 4 meeting for SANBAG’s successor agency, the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, that agency’s executive director, Ray Wolfe, said he recommended that the San Bernardino County transit collective “throw in the towel” on the Gold Line, meaning that it should discontinue the funding commitment formerly made to bring the Gold Line from Claremont, the last stop in Los Angeles County, to Montclair, the first stop in San Bernardino County.
Wolfe quibbles with the necessity of San Bernardino County involving itself with the Gold Line, which is described as a “light-rail” project, separate and apart from the heavier and larger Metro-Link trains and line. The Gold Line would involve a newly constructed track. Wolfe is advising that San Bernardino County forego the construction of a new track and simply add additional low-emission locomotives on the existing tracks used by MetroLink between Pomona and Montclair, eventually extending that light rail option through into Upland and then to Rancho Cucamonga.
Previously, the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority had agreed to put up $39 million toward the extension of the Gold Line to Montclair. When San Bernardino County’s share of the cost rose to $80 million, officials made a joint application with the Los Angles Metro Transit Agency for a State of California Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program grant. That application was successful and it brought in $41 million to fill in San Bernardino County’s portion of the funding gap. Now the cost has risen to $97.4 million to complete the line from Claremont to Montclair, and Wolfe is counseling county officials to pull the plug on the extension, give the $41 million back to the state and devote the $39 million toward transportation projects elsewhere.
What was made clear at this morning’s festivities in Pomona is that the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority is 100 percent committed to bringing the Gold Line to Pomona. Whether the train will ever make it to Montclair or beyond is now unknown, dependent upon whether Los Angeles County transportation officials and San Bernardino County municipal officials who are heavily in favor of the Gold Line, such as the city councilmembers, mayors and city managers in Montclair and Ontario, can prevail on the board members with the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority to override Wolfe’s recommendation and stay the course with the light rail project.
The San Bernardino County Transportation Authority’s board consists of a single representative – either the mayor or a council member – from each of the county’s 24 cities and all five of the members of the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors.
In Pomona this morning the focus was on the extension to be completed by Kiewit-Parsons to add new stations to the Metro Gold Line system in the cities of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, and Pomona. Left up in the air is whether funding will in fact be secured to complete the two additional phases to Claremont and then Montclair. The Glendora to Pomona segment is anticipated to be completed in 2025, and the entire project to Montclair by 2028 if the contract option is initiated.
“Today, as we sign the contract that kicks off major construction for the next Gold Line segment, we are one step closer to improving mobility and the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of residents, workers, students and others as they travel to and from the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys each day,” said Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority Board Chair and Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval. “Getting to today’s contract signing would not have been possible without the partnership and collaboration with LA Metro’s board and executive team; and the support of elected officials at all levels, including the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments and the State of California that provided hundreds of millions of dollars of funding that helped make today possible.”
The contract signing with Kiewit-Parsons concludes a two-year procurement process and officially marks the beginning of major construction for the $2.1 billion light rail project. Kiewit-Parsons, the same design-build team responsible for successfully building the two earlier segments of the Foothill Gold Line between Union Station and Azusa, was ranked the top team in all technical categories by the evaluation committees. It also provided the lowest overall bid price. Officials deemed Kiewit-Parsons as offering the best value for the agency when the consortium was awarded the contract in mid-August.
“The Kiewit-Parsons team has a long history working for the construction authority and doing an excellent job,“ stated Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian. “I am confident that their team, and my team at the construction authority, are ready to go to work to deliver another successful project for this region.”
“Kiewit is excited to have been chosen to build this important rail transportation project in the region,” said Terry Robinson, senior vice president, Kiewit Infrastructure West Co. “Our long, successful history with the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority since the late 1990s will only help the Kiewit-Parsons team as we closely collaborate throughout the life of the contract. We look forward to using our extensive rail transportation experience to safely deliver a high-quality project that commuters and those visiting the area will ultimately use and enjoy.”
“We are excited to partner with the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority and our team in delivering full-service integrated delivery including design and technological capabilities that will benefit travelers across the LA Metro service area,” said Mark Fialkowski, executive vice president of mobility solutions, Parsons Corporation. “Parsons will provide innovative, sustainable solutions that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality, while helping San Gabriel Valley commuters get to their destinations safely and reliably.”
Today’s historic signing event was attended by elected officials at all levels of government, the Foothill Gold Line Board of Directors, officials from the project’s corridor cities, transportation officials – including Foothill Gold Line CEO Habib F. Balian, Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington and California State Transportation Agency Undersecretary Elissa Konove – and San Gabriel Valley stakeholders. The notable list of speakers included U.S. Representative Norma Torres; California State Senator Anthony Portantino; California State Assembly Member Chris Holden; Foothill Gold Line Board Chair and Pomona Mayor Tim Sandoval; Metro Board Chair and Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts Jr.; Metro Board First Vice Chair and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti; Metro Board Second Vice Chair and Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis; Metro Board Member and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger; and Metro Board Member, Foothill Gold Line Board Member and Duarte Council Member John Fasana.
The Glendora-to-Montclair project is named as one of Metro’s 28 priority projects to be completed before the 2028 Olympic Games in Los Angeles and is the fourth rail project currently in major construction in Los Angeles County. It will provide connections to important regional destinations like the LA County Fairplex, two dozen more colleges and universities, historic downtowns, museums, regional parks and open space areas, and more. In addition, the extension will provide a direct link between the Metro and MetroLink systems, allowing riders from each system to easily transfer; creating endless possibilities for connections throughout the region.
It is estimated that during construction alone, the Foothill Gold Line from Glendora to Montclair will create as many as 16,000 jobs and up to $2.6 billion in economic output for the region, as well as up to $1 billion in labor income and potentially $40 million in tax revenue, according to an economic study by Beacon Economics. Once completed, it is estimated the line will add more than 8,300 daily riders to the Metro system.

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