City officials along Foothill Gold Line communities from Azusa to Montclair are not just hopeful for the success of the Los Angeles County Measure M half-cent sales tax measure — which would mean completion of the train line sooner rather than later — they’re banking on it.
Anticipation for the Gold Line has been an economic catalyst for so-called “transit-oriented developments,” such as mixed-use projects incorporating apartments and retail space, that have already been built along the route.
The trains are expected to start rolling into several foothill area stations throughout the stretch in 2025, with a six-year construction schedule expected to begin in 2019 if voters in Los Angeles County approve Measure M, the Los Angels County Traffic Improvement Plan that funds a number of projects through the region.
If approved, the sales tax measure would begin collecting revenue in 2017, and would increase to one cent in 2039.
Cost for the final stretch of the Gold Line, from Azusa to Montclair, is about $1.2 billion. San Bernardino Associated Governments, which secures funding for transportation projects in San Bernardino County, has committed to funding the last portion of the stretch outside of Los Angeles County, which Gold Line Authority officials estimate at $63 million to connect Claremont to Montclair.
“Once the Gold Line gets to the Los Angeles County Line, we’re committed to taking it to the Montclair Transit Center,” said Tim Watkins, SanBAG spokesman.
Meanwhile, LA County officials are putting all their Gold Line eggs into one Measure M basket.
If Measure M doesn’t pass, the authority would have to evaluate how to move forward the various projects it’s overseeing “based on when funds become available,” said Pauletta Tonilas, a spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, or Metro
“We have not identified another plan at this point,” Tonilas said. “This is the plan we’re putting forth to the public. We haven’t thought beyond that. We’re focused on Measure M and educating the public on what Measure M will provide.”
A distant Plan B, should the ballot measure fail, would have Metro looking at “local, state and federal funding opportunities, such as low interest loans or other mechanisms we can use to keep things moving,” she said.
Montclair city officials can only watch from the sidelines. They’ve been waiting more than a decade in anticipation of the Gold Line, which originally had an ETA of 2018, which was then pushed to the mid-2020s.
The arrival of the Gold Line has been integral to planning for the city’s transit oriented-development plan, which other cities along the rail line have defined as higher density housing, retail and restaurants near the train stations, City Manager Ed Starr said.
If the measure fails, Montclair City Manager Ed Starr said, “we would take the position it is again once more a delay and not the end of the Gold Line vision.” Officials would get to work on another plan.
The North Downtown Montclair Specific Plan calls for a walkable downtown core with high-density housing, retail and restaurants, connecting the nearby Metrolink and a proposed future Gold Line station to the Montclair Place shopping mall.
The first apartment project to be developed for the specific plan, The Paseos at Montclair North by Carlsbad-based GLJ Partners, has been completed. Another housing development, Arrow Station, with rentals and homes for sale by Corona-based developer Meritage Homes, has already begun sales.
“The Gold Line provides a service level that would take west-end riders from the San Bernardino Valley into Pasadena and into Los Angeles and this is an element not available right now,” Starr said. “So for us, the expansion of the Gold Line is integral to our plans. At one time, we anticipated that the Gold Line would be here as early as 2018, and then it was 2022, and now (about) 2024, and we certainly don’t want to see it delayed any longer than that.”
Metrolink trains are able to pick up Claremont passengers at the transit station located in downtown, but transit-oriented development in the surrounding Claremont Village and future plans to extend similar development south along Indian Hill Boulevard have also had the Gold Line in mind, Colin Tudor, assistant city manager, said.
“The City Council adopted a resolution in support of the ballot measure on July 28 and the Claremont City Council has been supportive of the project since the beginning,” Tudor said. “We’ve done transit-oriented development for the Village expansion since 2006.”
In Pomona, the City Council “continues to be supportive of the Gold Line expansion, including the future Pomona station,” said Assistant City Manager Mark Gluba. It has also adopted a plan that includes significant development designed to revitalize the area around the new station.
In La Verne, the station will be located north of Arrow Highway and east of E Street, between the University of La Verne and Fairplex. La Verne is also on board with new development near the station.
“Absolutely we would like to see it sooner rather than later,” said City Manager Bob Russi. “The City Council has not taken a formal position on the measure yet. That doesn’t mean we are not looking forward to the Gold Line coming through. We absolutely are.”
San Dimas not only looks forward to the Gold Line, it has already ushered in development to support it. The Grove Station mixed-used development, 360 S. San Dimas Ave., was opened in 2011 and features dozens of housing units, including “live-work” spaces, and several offices and spaces for retail and restaurants or cafes. The proposed Gold Line station is planned right next door.
“We’re definitely anticipating the Gold Line stop close by,” said Upland resident Jordan Nachbaur, who owns the train-themed Railside Cafe coffee shop with his mother Josee Normand, who lives above the cafe. “The live-work is great because if you live upstairs and work downstairs, you don’t have to drive to work you save on gas.”
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