The nearly $1 billion Foothill Gold Line light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa is opening new stations like they were Starbucks Coffee shops. In the past month, the Construction Authority, the entity overseeing construction of the 11.5-mi-long, six-station project, has celebrated the completion of three new stations and will commemorate the remaining three in the next two weeks.

On August 28 the Authority commemorated the Irwindale Station, located in the city of Irwindale, about 20 miles east of Los Angeles. The depot features a 350-space parking facility near one of the town's largest businesses, the Miller Brewery Company. It will also boast public art created by Robin Bralsford that will reflect the communities rich history of in rock quarries, while paying tribute to its founding families in its decorative railings, platforms and murals.

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On August 22, the Arcadia Station was inaugurated. This station, located about 15 miles east of LA, features unique public artwork by artist Michael Davis entitled “Arcadian Zephyr,” that is inspired by two of the city's major destinations: the Santa Anita Racetrack and the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Garden. Highlights include a 22-ft-tall weathervane with bronze sculptures that reference plants and animals from the Arboretum and racetrack; and stainless steel panels featuring galloping racehorses.

Then there is the Duarte/City of Hope Station that was dedicated on August 15. This train stop is located across the street from world-famous City of Hope National Medical Center, in the city of Duarte, about 17 miles east of LA. It boasts artwork by Andrea Myklebust and Stanton Gray Sears entitled “Spirit of the San Gabriel River.”

The artwork incorporates Duarte’s history and culture and includes four hand-carved Indiana Limestone sculptures, each weighing between 3,300 and 3,600 pounds, atop specialty cut metal painted pillars. On the ground below the sculptures are eight-inch-square cast bronze pavers patterned after the orange blossoms, branches and fruit reminiscent of citrus labels used to transport and sell the fruit grown in Duarte in decades past.

The project's remaining three stations are the Monrovia Station in the city of Monrovia, which will open September 12; and the Azusa Downtown Station and the APU Citrus College, which will both be dedicated on September 19.

The Authority says the project is on time and budget and should be turned over to Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) for pre-revenue service in late-September. Metro anticipates starting pre-revenue service in Fall 2015, and passenger service in 2016.

An opening date for passenger service has not yet been determined; however, during the Arcadia Station dedication, Metro CEO Phillip Washington revealed that the agency would announce a date for passenger service to begin within 30 days of project turn-over.

The project, which broke ground in June 2010, has employed three design-build teams to complete the work. The first contract was awarded in June 2010 to Skanska USA to design and build the Gold Line Bridge, that completed in December 2012. In July 2011, the second contract was awarded to Foothill Transit Constructors - A Kiewit Parsons Joint Venture to design and build the Pasadena to Azusa "alignment" (including the stations, track, crossings, bridges, etc.)

The last contract was awarded in February 2013 to Webcor Builders for the intermodal parking facilities and enhancements to the design-build project.