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June 20, 2024
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Foothill Gold Line Extension 81% Complete

Construction of the 9.1-mile, $1.6 billion Foothill Gold Line Extension light rail project in the eastern San Gabriel Valley is more than 80% complete, with all the bridge, grade-crossing and track-laying work wrapped up, according to a year-end report from the rail line construction authority.

That progress keeps the project on track to complete construction in the first quarter of next year and turn the rail line back over to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority for train car testing and ultimately taking on passengers.

The news was not so good for another local high-profile rail project, the $3.1 billion, 4-mile first phase of Metro’s Purple Line Extension subway along Wilshire Boulevard through the Miracle Mile district. That project had been slated to open late this year; delays have pushed the opening back to sometime next year.

The Foothill Gold Line Extension rail line construction is being led by a joint venture of Omaha, Nebraska-based Kiewit Corp. and Centreville, Virginia-based Parsons Corp.

When this construction phase is complete, the eastern terminus of the Gold Line will move from its current location in Azusa to Pomona. The Gold Line begins at Union Station in downtown Los Angeles.

Another 3.2-mile extension to take the Foothill Gold Line across the San Bernardino County line to Montclair has yet to be fully funded. That segment was broken off from the original project in 2018 as construction bids came in substantially higher than what had been budgeted.

The Dec. 21 report from the Foothill Gold Line Extension Construction Authority said overall construction was 81% complete. 

But that’s not 81% across the board. Some portions of the project – including bridge construction, grade crossings and track-laying – have been completed. The update stated that Kiewit-Parsons-led crews have wrapped up major work on all 21 at-grade crossings and all 19 new or renovated bridges, though some minor construction may be remaining on some of them.

But construction is only about two-thirds complete on the four new stations on the route in Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne and Pomona. And construction only recently started on the first of four new intermodal parking structures.

Nonetheless, the construction update said work is proceeding on schedule for all four stations to be completed by the end of this year.

Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority officials are pleased with last year’s progress and the nearing of the rail line opening.

“With the Glendora to Pomona construction segment roaring past 80% completion, we’re about a year away from stitching L.A. and the San Gabriel Valley closer together,” said Ed Reece, board chair of the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority and a Claremont councilmember.

The December report from the authority also contained an update on obtaining the funds for the 3.1-mile extension to Montclair, which has seen its projected cost balloon from $550 million in late 2018 to roughly $800 million today.

This Pomona to Montclair extension project lost out on last year’s funding from the state, as state transportation officials chose instead to provide more than $400 million to the Inglewood Transit Corridor project.

Another factor that may have weighed against funding this segment is that there is an alternative rail route: a Metrolink regional commuter rail line runs parallel to the entire length. Metrolink, though, is more costly ($14.50 round trip from Union Station to Montclair vs $3.50 round trip on Metro’s L (Gold) Line) and commuters would have to make an extra transfer between the rail systems. 

The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority has once again submitted its application for state funding and hopes this year the result will be different, despite the state’s looming multibillion dollar budget deficit.

Purple Line extension delayed

As for Metro’s Purple Line, now known as the D Line, the 4-mile first phase was about 89% complete as of December. But it’s running at least six months behind schedule due to a series of unexpected challenges and now won’t open until sometime next year. 

According to the Beverly Press, which broke the news of the opening pushback, the delays included tunneling through more extensive pockets of methane and hydrogen sulfide gas than expected, encountering unmarked abandoned oil wells and other obstacles. Covid-related construction delays and supply chain issues have added to the delays.

Metro spokesman Dave Sotero said that as of now there is no set date in 2025 for completion of this segment.

Construction of the first phase of the Purple Line extension is being led by a joint venture of three contractors: Stockholm, Sweden-based Skanska; Evansville, Indiana-based Traylor Bros. Inc.; and Walnut-based Shea Construction.

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