I have been fighting to bring the Gold Line to Duarte since 1991. In 1993, I was selected by mayors and councilmembers from 30 of the 31 cities in San Gabriel Valley to represent them on the newly created Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA or Metro) Board. This unique position of advocacy is contingent on my Duarte City Council seat. That means that if another candidate were to take my place on the City Council, the San Gabriel Valley's representative to MTA would be chosen from among the elected officials of any of the 30 cities in the San Gabriel Valley. My involvement on MTA to date has brought numerous transit initiatives to the San Gabriel Valley, and Duarte itself is benefiting from new soundwalls and the Gold Line Extension which will be arriving shortly.
In the early 1990s, Metro planned the construction of the Gold Line from Los Angeles to Pasadena. At the time, it was known as the Blue Line. Late in 1997 the future of the line from Los Angeles to Pasadena was in jeopardy. Metro attempted to end the line at Del Mar rather than Sierra Madre Villa. This would have made a subsequent extension beyond Pasadena even more challenging due to the added length and funds that would have been required. In January 1998, when it became clear Metro was prepared to halt work on the Pasadena Line, I became the first San Gabriel Valley elected official to call for the Line to be taken away from Metro in order for it to be constructed more effectively by a separate construction authority. Adam Schiff, then a State Senator, authored SB1847 that ultimately was signed into law in September 1998. This bill created the current Gold Line Construction Authority that has been given the single purpose of constructing the Gold Line. The newly formed Construction Authority completed the Los Angeles to Pasadena segment in slightly less than three years, and the 13.7-mile line opened in 2003 on time and under budget. Segments of the Gold Line are returned to the authority of Metro for operation once construction is completed by the Gold Line Construction Authority.
After the completion and opening of the line to Pasadena in 2003, the next task was to obtain funding for the extension to Azusa. After passage of Los Angeles County Measure R, which included funding for the Gold Line, Metro still indicated the Azusa extension could not be operated until 2017. Working with Supervisors Mike Antonovich and Mark Ridley-Thomas, I co-authored a motion indicating Metro would operate the extension as soon as it was built and that Metro would make federal funding a top priority to extend the Gold Line from Azusa to Claremont. After Board members saw that there was sufficient support for the motion, it was passed with a unanimous vote. With passage of this motion, we finally had the approval and funding to issue construction contracts to build the line through Azusa. For more information about the motion that was passed, check out these articles that appeared in the Los Angeles Times, the Pasadena Star News and San Gabriel Valley Tribune, and the I Will Ride blog.
The Gold Line extension to Azusa broke ground in June 2010. In anticipation of this event, I was interviewed in the summer 2010 edition of Metro Motion to discuss the extension. Click on the image below to watch a short excerpt of my speech at the groundbreaking:
Reinforcing steel cages were installed for three 110-foot deep foundations that recently were drilled for the iconic freeway bridge that will take the Gold Line out of the 210 freeway median and off to the south of the freeway as the Gold Line heads east through Arcadia. The 11 - foot diameter holes for each of the three main supporting columns were drilled in September and October 2011. I took these pictures the night the concrete was poured in the 1st hole on the south side of the freeway. More than 40 trucks came in during the night to provide the concrete. After the first foundation was poured, the cranes were moved to the center median of the freeway and completed the remaining two 110-foot deep foundations.
I expect the Gold Line to begin providing service through Duarte in 2015. During construction of the Gold Line, we will realign the intersection at Mountain Avenue and Duarte Road to make it safer. The Gold Line Construction Authority has produced an excellent video on grade crossing safety features for the upcoming extension.
The 210 Freeway bisects the City of Duarte and generates a vast amount of noise that impacts surrounding neighborhoods, businesses, and schools. For many years I fought for the installation of soundwalls to mitigate this noise, and I am proud to say that these soundwalls have finally been built due in part to my advocacy efforts. The recent photos shown here depict the soundwalls that were built on the North side of the 210 Freeway adjacent to Northview Intermediate School and Duarte High School. These soundwalls, built by Caltrans and funded by Metro, are nearly complete and will bring much needed noise relief to students and teachers at our schools. As you can see here, we (regional transit agencies) still have many more soundwalls to build, but Duarte’s walls have now been completed.
I have been an active advocate for other projects in the San Gabriel Valley to help improve mobility in our region. I played a key role in obtaining a $210 million federal grant to test strategies for improving the performance of our carpool lane network. Part of this grant allowed for rebuilding the El Monte Bus Station, the busiest bus-only station west of Chicago. I also worked with state and local officials to obtain funding to improve the unsafe I10 – I605 interchange. The interchange will be rebuilt in two phases to help relieve the unsafe weaving that occurs at the interchange. The first phase will eliminate the weaving that occurs between South-to-East and West-to-South movements and is expected to be complete in 2014. As Chair of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, I had a key role in formation and creation of the Alameda-Corridor-East Construction Authority that is constructing grade separations along two key rail rights-of-way in San Gabriel Valley that carry our nation’s freight eastward from Los Angeles / Long Beach Harbors.
©2012 John Fasana