Federal, state and local elected officials, along with Metro executives and community leaders, gathered recently at the new Metro East Los Angeles Civic Center Station for the official dedication ceremony of the Edward R. Roybal Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension.

Photo: Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority

The Gold Line Eastside Extension in Los Angeles, a major Balfour Beatty Rail, Inc. project, marked the beginning of its light rail service with a grand opening ceremony on Saturday, Nov. 15.

Balfour Beatty Rail started work in 2004 on the Eastside extension in a joint venture with electrical contractor Steiny and Co. The extension runs from Union Station to Pomona Boulevard and Atlantic Boulevard.

“This has been a landmark project for Balfour Beatty Rail, one that demonstrates the expertise and versatility of our people in a big way,” says Joe Reed, vice president of Transit, Balfour Beatty Rail. “The work we’ve done here certainly won’t go unnoticed. This is going to have an impact on area transportation for a long time to come.”

Balfour Beatty Rail designed, installed and tested the system components for the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The $90 million project entailed several miles of at-grade stretches and a 2-mi underground segment that includes two double-level stations. Included in the work were signals, communications, traction power and the overhead catenary system.

“Our crew deserves recognition for executing this very complex project,” says Jim Moynihan, president and CEO of Balfour Beatty Rail, Inc. “It’s a tribute to the depth of their skills. Stringing lines, building the stations, constructing track — they’ve done it all, as well as anyone can.”

Metro Gold Line anticipates 13,000 passengers will ride the extension on an average weekday after the first year of operation.

Under construction for five years and coming in on budget with a flawless 4-million plus hour construction safety record, the 6-mi Eastside Extension links East L.A. with downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena, as well as with the Metro Blue and Green light-rail lines, Metro Red and Purple subway lines and the Metro Orange Line dedicated busway. Together these lines crisscross Los Angeles County, connecting the Eastside with Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Norwalk, Hollywood, Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley. And now under construction, the Exposition light-rail Line will connect L.A.’s Westside with downtown Los Angeles and the Eastside Extension.

“The Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension will become the mobility centerpiece to an already vibrant community, as well as benefit the entire region by reducing traffic and air pollution and encouraging business development near and along the alignment,” says Ara Najarian, chairman of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “And it’s representative of the many Measure R funded projects MTA will be completing during the coming years that will reduce traffic and jump-start the economy of our region.”

The Eastside Extension train carrying officials from Union Station broke through a banner as confetti and fireworks cannons fired and a band played, marking the beginning of the hour-long event. Among those attending were U.S. Congress members Lucille Roybal-Allard, Grace Napolitano and Judy Chu, California Senator Gil Cedillo, California Assemblyman Mike Eng, L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina, L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, L.A. City Council member Jose Huizar, Board Chair Najarian, Metro CEO Art Leahy and Diana Tarango and Art Herrera, co-chairs of the community's Review Advisory Committee.

“For the first time in nearly half a century — since the last trolley ran down 1st Street — rail will again carry passengers from downtown L.A. to East Los Angeles,” says Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. “This caps a 20-year battle to bring rail back to East L.A. — one of the most transit dependent communities in Los Angeles. But this is not the end of the ride. Thanks to the passage of Measure R, there will be local funding for half a dozen new rail projects in the next decade, which will give Angelenos even greater transit access to jobs and other opportunities throughout the county.”

This opening brings the Metro Rail system to a total of 79 mi of rail — all built during the past 20 years. Groundbreaking for the line, which was constructed by Eastside LRT Constructors, was in July 2004.

“My father Edward R. Roybal, for whom the Eastside Extension is named, would be so proud that the community in which he was raised and worked so diligently to represent will now have a rail line which will benefit our transit dependent neighborhoods and provide increased opportunities for employment, education, recreation and commerce,” says U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard.

“As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years, he was a staunch supporter of efforts to bring rail to the Eastside and he worked long and hard towards that end. It has been my pleasure to continue that fight and today his dream of affordable, clean and efficient transportation is becoming a reality.”