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Metro officials announce March start date for Gold Line extension to Azusa

The much-anticipated Gold Line extension from Pasadena to Azusa will open for service on March 5, Metro officials announced Thursday.

The Foothill Gold Line that ends now at Sierra Madre Villa in Pasadena will have six new stops: Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte/City of Hope, Irwindale, Azusa Downtown and Azusa Pacific University/Citrus College.

Caption: A map of the the Gold Line's extension into the San Gabriel Valley. See a larger version here (Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

Chris Harker, who commutes from Monrovia to downtown Los Angeles every day, is one of many members of the public eagerly awaiting the start of service on the new extension.

"I’m sitting here on the 110 freeway going north just being irritated sitting in cars," he said. "I'm very excited to see it come to fruition."

Officials also announced a pilot program testing express buses from North Hollywood to Pasadena beginning March 5. The service will connect Metro's Red subway and Orange bus lines to the Gold rail line in Pasadena. (See route map below.)

Construction on the Gold Line extension broke ground in June 2010. After 2.4 million work hours and $957 million, the project is now in its testing phase. 

Mark Ridley-Thomas, Metro chairman and Los Angeles County supervisor, celebrated the project at a press conference announcing the start date.

“The Gold Line Extension was completed on time and on budget and I think that deserves a round of applause,” he said.

Between now and the opening, Metro wants drivers, pedestrians and bicyclists to be alert to the testing of trains on the tracks.

Metro said the project is the first to open with funding from Measure R, the half-cent sales tax approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008.

The second phase of the Expo Line between Culver City and downtown Santa Monica will be the next Measure R project and is scheduled to open next year.

On its TheSource webpage, Metro posted 10 things the public needs to know about the extension :

1. The Gold Line Foothill Extension extends the Gold Line for 11.5 miles from the current Sierra Madre Villa Station in eastern Pasadena to the Azusa/Glendora border. The project includes 24 bridges and 14 street-level crossings.

2. There will be six new stations: downtown Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte/City of Hope, Irwindale, downtown Azusa and APU/Citrus College Station in Azusa. APU is Azusa Pacific University.

3. It will take about 50 minutes to travel on the Gold Line between Los Angeles Union Station and the the APU/Citrus College Station in Azusa. Trains will run every 12 minutes during peak hours.

4. There will be parking at each of the new six stations: 300 spaces in the new garage at Arcadia, 350 in the new garage at Monrovia, 125 in a parking lot in Duarte, 350 in a parking garage in Irwindale, 200 spaces in a new garage shared with the city of Azusa and Foothill Transit in downtown Azusa and 200 spaces at the APU/Citrus College Station.

5. Riding will cost $1.75 for those paying the regular fare, which includes two hours of free transfers. Metro daily passes cost $7, weekly passes $25 and monthly passes $100 for those using TAP cards. There are discounts available for K-12 students, college/vocational students, seniors, the disabled, Medicare recipients and eligible low-income riders. Please see this web page for more information about discounted fares.

6. The project includes a new 24-acre rail car maintenance facility in Monrovia that can hold 84 rail vehicles and will be a major employer in the area.

7. The Gold Line Foothill Extension cost $957 million, including the new tracks, the rail yard, parking facilities and amenities to help pedestrians and cyclists reach the stations and garages.

8. The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority was set up by the state to plan, design and build the Gold Line from downtown L.A. to the San Gabriel Valley. The Construction Authority also built the 13.5-mile DTLA to Pasadena segment. Metro built the Eastside Gold Line project between Union Station and East L.A.

9. The Construction Authority has completed environmental studies for a second phase to the project that would extend the tracks from Azusa to Montclair in San Bernardino County. The L.A. County portion of that segment is in Metro’s current long-range plans but is not yet funded. San Gabriel Valley officials have submitted it as a project possibly to be funded by a potential Metro sales tax ballot measure in Nov. 2016. A portion of the project between Claremont and Montclair would have to be funded by San Bernardino County. The latest info is here about the long-range plan update and possible ballot measure.

1o. The Regional Connector project is tying together the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines in downtown Los Angeles. When completed, Gold Line riders from Azusa and East Los Angeles will be able to travel to the heart of downtown Los Angeles without having to transfer to the Red/Purple Line subway at Union Station. More on Regional Connector here.

11. Bonus Thing to Know!: Metro’s new NoHo-Pasadena Express bus will begin service the same day that the Gold Line Foothill Extension opens. The new route connects the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys with regular service throughout each day between the Red and Orange Line stations in North Hollywood and two Gold Line stations n Pasadena. Here’s a Source post with the details and the map of the new route is below:

Caption: A map of the Pasadena to North Hollywood express bus route. The service will connect Metro's Red and Orange lines with its Gold Line. See a larger image. (Credit: Metropolitan Transportation Authority)

This story has been updated.