The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board on June 22 approved a $1.4-billion budget and partnership agreements to extend the Metro Gold Line in the San Gabriel Valley another 11.5 miles east to the city of Claremont, about 45 miles east of Downtown LA. The light rail line currently ends its eastward journey in the city of Azusa.

Partnership agreements establish a funding plan and shared roles and responsibilities between Metro and the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, the agency that will build the extension. Metro will fund the portion of the new segment from Glendora to Claremont within Los Angeles County. The Construction Authority plans to utilize other funding to complete the line to Montclair in San Bernardino County as part of the overall project.

This Gold Line project will be the first rail line to begin construction with the help of Metro’s Measure M half-cent transportation sales tax that was approved by L.A. County voters in November 2016. Metro will use $1.019 billion of Measure M funds, along with other local and state funds, to pay for the project.

“This project will create a critical new transit connection for Los Angeles, the San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire areas when it’s completed,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington in a press release.  

Metro plans to apply for a $249-million grant from the state’s Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program to complete life-of-project budget requirements. Construction Authority CEO Habib F. Balian says should that funding be unavailable, Metro will pursue other options and approaches to meet the full funding needs of the project. "The Construction Authority continues to work with San Bernardino County to fully fund the portion of the project from Claremont to Montclair," he said in a recent statement.

This new extension is slated to have stations in the cities of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona and Claremont. As with Pasadena to Azusa, the extension to Claremont is planned to be built along the former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (ATSF) right-of-way, which was purchased by Metro in the early 1990s for the project. While the Gold Line will share the same 100-ft-wide rail corridor with Metrolink and freight trains, it will run on its own separate tracks, powered by overhead catenary wires.

To date, the Construction Authority has environmentally cleared the project and completed advanced engineering for the entire alignment. The authority expects to award its first contract for advanced utility relocation later this year. The project’s official groundbreaking is planned for October, with plans to open to the public by 2027.

The Board also approved the transfer of an additional $26 million in cost savings from the Construction Authority’s Gold Line segment to Azusa, which opened in March 2016. Combined with previously approved savings, nearly $100 million of residual Measure R funds dedicated for the full Foothill Gold Line project will be used to complete the next segment from Glendora to Claremont, say project officials.

Metro says that another extension is planned from Claremont to Montclair which will add another mile to the line when funding is secured. A trip from Montclair to Pasadena should take just over 40 minutes, and a trip from Montclair to Los Angeles would be about 75 minutes.