Gold Line Expansion: Good News, Bad News

Published : Friday, November 16, 2018 | 5:46 AM

The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, the agency created by the California State Legislature to plan, design and build the Metro Gold Line light rail system from Union Station in Los Angeles to Montclair, reported this week it can complete about 70 percent of the Foothill Gold Line light rail extension project at least two years ahead of schedule.

That means the Gold Line’s train service could get to Glendora, San Dimas and La Verne by 2024 instead of 2026.

Now that’s the good news.

But the bad news is that service to Pomona, Claremont and Montclair would have to be delayed until 2028 or later, according to a new plan introduced at Tuesday’s meeting of the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority’s Board of Directors.

A report before the Board said the four teams bidding for the design-and-build contract have submitted proposals that are “hundreds of millions of dollars above the project estimate and available funding.”

Because of this, the Authority may have to increase the project’s budget by $570 million, bringing the total requirement to $2.1 billion.

The bids reflected a “significant unfavorable shift in market conditions” since 2016 when the agency completed the project estimate, the Authority said in a statement.

“We bid the project during what has turned out to be a perfect storm,” Habib F. Balian, CEO of the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, said before the Board. “It all comes down to bidding a long-term project in a very hot economic market, with material and labor costs at historic highs.”

In response, the Authority is proposing to revise the phasing of the project construction. It now plans to deliver the first eight miles of the 12.3-mile light rail extension – to include 80 percent of the freight relocation, 72 percent of the structures, 65 percent of the grade crossings, and three of the light rail stations (Glendora, San Dimas and La Verne stations) – in 2024, while continuing to work to secure additional funding necessary to complete the project to Montclair by 2028.

Metro’s management said it will continue to help the Authority find funding for the rest of the project.

“The Metro team is committed to working closely with the Construction Authority to identify funding opportunities to build out the full project,” Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington said. “Not only is this project a key component of enhancing mobility in the San Gabriel Valley, but also a significant project to have in place in time for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.”

In the statement, the Authority said if the plan is approved, they will ask the bidders to provide separate bids for the first eight miles of the project and for a contract option that would allow the winning team to complete the full project to Montclair if funding is secured within two years of Notice to Proceed.

The Board of Directors was also informed the contract award date may have to be delayed up to July 2019 to allow for the necessary environmental review associated with the La Verne Station becoming a possible temporary terminus, if full funding is not secured in time.

The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority completed the first phase of the Gold Line extension Union Station to Pasadena in 2003, and the second phase, from Pasadena to Azusa, in 2015. It began work on the Foothill Gold Line from Glendora to Montclair in 2003.

The Los Angeles County portion is being funded mostly by Measure M, with residual funds from Measure R not used to complete the Pasadena to Azusa segment. 

San Bernardino County is responsible to fund their portion of the project from Claremont (in Los Angeles County) to Montclair (in San Bernardino County).

The State of California is also providing funding for the project, which was awarded a $290 million Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) grant earlier this year.
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