HeadlinesSep 04, 2010
Pasadena Star-News - Perspectives: A tale of two Gold Line extensions… - By Judy Chu
By Judy Chu
Imagine a San Gabriel Valley crisscrossed by fast, efficient mass transit, with light rail lines traversing the north and south of the Valley and interconnected by rapid bus links, creating a grid that connects our residents, industrial and educational centers with the rest of the Los Angeles Basin through a high-capacity, pollution-free system.
It's not that hard to imagine, because we are actually halfway there. Construction has finally begun on the second phase of the Gold Line Foothill Extension, with the line being extended east from east Pasadena along the northern foothills. By 2013, this line will run to the edge of the Valley at the Azusa/Glendora border. Metro, along with local transit agencies including Foothill Transit and Montebello Bus Lines, already provide excellent bus service throughout the Valley, and to points beyond.
Now, the last component to giving our residents a truly complete, regional mass transit system is within our grasp. For the past year, Metro has been examining two alternatives to extending the Gold Line Eastside Extension past its current terminus at Atlantic and Pomona boulevards in East Los Angeles.
The only option that makes economic, regional and common sense is the one extending the line along the Pomona (60) Freeway through the southern San Gabriel Valley.
According to previous estimates, the SR-60 alternative is significantly lower in cost than the second option, along Washington Boulevard toward Whittier. The state of California already owns the right of way along the 60 Freeway, while building the line along Washington Boulevard would in all likelihood require purchasing many private properties, including homes and businesses, through eminent domain.
The lack of a need for eminent domain along the SR-60 Route is the reason Montebello, the city that would be most negatively impacted by the Washington Boulevard option, has joined a diverse and united coalition of cities in the southern San Gabriel Valley that support the 60 Freeway alignment. In fact, every city along the proposed line - Montebello, Monterey Park, Rosemead and South El Monte - is on board with the project. And what's more impressive is that cities not directly on the line, including El Monte and Industry, have joined this coalition, helping to ensure we will be well positioned in the future to fight for resources and make further regional transportation connections.
But cities are not the only members of the SR-60 Coalition. Looking forward to two east-west rail lines traversing the Valley, agencies such as Foothill Transit and Montebello Bus Lines have already committed to expanding and improving north-west service connecting the two Gold Lines. This would complete the grid, providing frequent, rapid bus service between rail stations on the north and south ends of the valley while connecting to key destinations in between, from Metro's El Monte Transit Station to our various state and community colleges including Cal Poly Pomona, East Los Angeles, Rio Hondo and Mt. SAC. Just like our Foothill Extension, the Eastside Extension could become a second "Brain Train" through the San Gabriel Valley.
But it doesn't end there. Unlike the Washington Boulevard alternative's planned terminus in Whittier, the SR-60 route is ripe for further expansion to current and future destinations, including the planned world-class football stadium in Industry, Industry's Metrolink station - one of the region's busiest - and further links east to the Ontario Airport and the fast-growing Inland Empire. Providing a light-rail link to the Los Angeles Stadium alone will preempt the huge influx of visitors that will flood to our region once professional football returns to Los Angeles, and influx that would otherwise further clog our already jam-packed freeways.
And that is where the true benefits of such a comprehensive system lie. Even before a stadium is built, imagine the impact of taking thousands of vehicles daily off of two of the three major highways that traverse the Valley from east to west. Imagine the benefits in terms of time saved, increased productivity and economic development, reduced pollution and improved quality of life.
For all these reasons, I have joined the SR-60 Coalition, along with scores of other local elected officials including state Assembly members Mike Eng and Ed Hernandez. Considering that Measure R only allocates $1.2 billion to the Eastside Extension Phase II, a figure below the total cost for either alternative, we need a unified coalition of state, federal and local officials to leverage the resources necessary to get the job done. And the only route that has that type of unanimous and dedicated support is the SR-60 alternative.
So I ask the residents of the San Gabriel Valley and our local leaders to join us and imagine what the future can hold as we move forward toward a truly comprehensive mass transit system that will serve as a model for our region and our state. Together, we can turn this dream into a reality.
Rep. Judy Chu, D-Monterey Park, is a member of Congress from California's 32nd District.