Montclair and Claremont ask heads of state to fund light rail expansion using budget surplus – Daily Bulletin

The cities of Claremont and Montclair recently sent letters to the governor and state legislature requesting a sizable portion of the state’s $46 billion budget surplus to fund a 3.2-mile extension of the LA metro streetcar line from Pomona to their cities.

The two cities, along with the board overseeing the current Glendora to Pomona extension of the L Line, formerly known as the Gold Line, have asked Governor Gavin Newsom and key state lawmakers for $748 million. dollars to build the last stage of the project. and push light rail service past Claremont in LA County to Montclair in San Bernardino County.

To extend the L subway line, formerly Gold Line, to Claremont and Montclair, additional funds are needed. California lawmakers who urged the governor and budget committees to fund the expansion using state surpluses were disappointed in September 2021 when no bill passed. But they’re trying again in 2022. (Courtesy of Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority)

Cities along the project‘s current extension route, including Glendora, La Verne, San Dimas and Pomona, as well as Fairplex in Pomona, La Verne University and Cal Poly Pomona, are writing similar letters of support, said Lisa Levy Buch, spokesperson for the Foothill Metro Gold Line Extension Building Authority.

“I hope the outpouring of support in the region and beyond will help this project be completed across the county to serve millions of commuters in Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties,” said the mayor of Claremont. , Pro Tem Ed Reece, who chairs the Construction Authority board. , wrote in an email.

The push includes a letter from Claremont dated February 14, asking for support, as well as two letters from Montclair, one dated February 16 signed by Mayor John Dutrey and a second dated February 22 signed by Dutrey and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Uh.

Adding the two stations would generate more than 50% of new ridership on the electric tram line, while eliminating 53% of car trips and 60% of vehicle kilometers travelled. In total, the extension to Montclair is expected to add 7,700 new boardings on the L line each weekday by 2028 and eliminate 14,900 car trips each day, mostly from highways 210 and 10, according to the letters.

The train would become an alternative to the 3 million vehicle journeys that are made every day in Gold Line corridor cities, only 3% of which are made in transit, officials said.

Montclair wrote that the station to be built at the city’s existing Montclair TransCenter would allow riders of a dozen San Bernardino Metrolink bus and passenger train routes to hop on the light rail line that takes riders to Pomona. , La Verne, San Dimas, Glendora, Azusa, Irwindale, Duarte, Arcadia, Pasadena and Los Angeles Chinatown, Downtown LA and East LA. The standard cost for a ride is $1.75.

Additionally, the Montclair L Line station would be accessible to cyclists along the proposed San Antonio Creek Channel Trail, a $112 million project to increase ridership while reducing tailpipe pollution. The new trail would connect to a planned West Valley Connector project — a 19-mile bus rapid transit system with connections to Ontario International Airport and Metrolink, Montclair’s letter says.

In addition to providing a transit option between their two counties, Montclair and Claremont are planning nearby housing projects along the lines, so people can use the light rail with little to no car travel. The two cities combined are planning 10,000 housing units near the Montclair and Claremont stations.

In North Montclair, the city has already seen the construction of 1,100 residential units and has developer interest in about 8,000 more within a half-mile of the Montclair TransCenter, the city said. Montclair is trying to buy land from Caltrans at the TransCenter for housing, including affordable apartments.

Both cities, along with the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments, as well as state senators and assembly members from both counties, have been advocating for decades for the inter-county line as a way to connect the commuters and weekend travelers with a more frequent, less expensive light rail service that could remove cars from crowded east-west highways.

But the green-certified project hit a snag in 2019 when rising material and labor costs pushed the project into the red and truncated the foothills extension, ending it north of Pomona and leaving aside Claremont and Montclair.

Project developers missed an opportunity to proceed with the project in October 2021, when an option on the contract with Kiewit-Parsons Joint Partners ran out and state lawmakers and the governor were unable to reach to an agreement. At that time, the extension would have cost around $540 million, a considerable sum for the distance. But with inflation driving up the cost of materials and labor, the price of the 3.2-mile extension has gone up by more than $200 million.

The new cost is $748 million and negotiations are ongoing with the contractor for an extension to the construction of the project, if financing becomes available, said Habib Balian, CEO of Gold Line Authority. But the portion in San Bernardino County would be covered by about $90 million in set aside dollars from the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority, Buch said, bringing the total cost of the expansion to $838 million.

If funding becomes available by summer and the contractor accepts the change order, the line to Claremont and Montclair could be completed by 2027, Balian said. If a new contractor is to be found, a new tendering process would add another year and a half, he added.

Either way, it all depends on whether Sacramento provides the money, which may not be determined until the state budget is approved in June or July.

“I think we have a very good chance,” Balian said.

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