The nearly $1 billion Foothill Gold Line light rail project from Pasadena to Azusa is scheduled to open to passengers on March 5, 2016. The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority, the entity which oversees the 11.5-mi-long, six-station project, recently announced that it reached  substantial completion on the project and will hand it over to Los Angeles Metro to manage.

The project, which broke ground June 26, 2010, has been led by three design-build teams. The first contract was awarded in June 2010 to Skanska USA to design and build the iconic, basket-shaped Gold Line Bridge in the city of Arcadia. Construction on the 584-linear-ft-long bridge began in July 2011 and was 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," which included the stations, track, crossings, bridges, etc. This $515 million design-build reached substantial completion on September 23, 2015.

The last contract was awarded in February 2013 to Webcor Builders for the intermodal parking facilities and enhancements design-build project. All three design-build teams completed their work on time and on budget.

In the past couple months, the project opened its six stations. On August 28 the Authority commemorated the Irwindale Station, in the city of Irwindale. This depot features a 350-space parking facility near one of the town's largest businesses, the Miller Brewery Company, and boasts public art reflecting the communities rich history of in rock quarries.

On August 22, the Arcadia Station opened with a 22-ft-tall weathervane and bronze sculptures that reference plants and animals from the city landmarks such as the Santa Anita Racetrack and the Los Angeles County Arboretum and Botanic Gardens. A couple miles east, the project saw the opening of the Duarte/City of Hope Station on August 15.

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

In April of this year, the project saw the opening of its $265-million Operations Campus, in Monrovia, beside the 210 Freeway, about 13 miles northeast of Downtown Los Angeles. The 24-acre campus houses up to 84 light rail vehicles and nearly 200 employees over several shifts a day. Designed by Parsons, it is one of the only of its kind to be designed and built to meet LEED Gold certification requirements.

Roland Genick, chief architect for Rail & Transit Systems for Parsons, told me a few months ago that when they began the design, the desire was to shoot for LEED Silver, "which is very difficult to do for a facility of this specificity." But when they got into it, he says the Construction Authority "challenged" the team to aim for LEED Gold.

Highlights of the project's sustainable design include an on-site, 714-panel, 178.5-kilowatt solar panel array, smart sprinkler technology, a variety of drought-tolerant plants, and a large carwash facility, with average usage of 60,000 gallons of water a day, that will only use recycled, reclaimed water.

The Foothill Gold Line from Pasadena to Azusa was built along the former Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe (ATSF) right-of-way, purchased by Metro for the project in the early 1990s. In all, the project includes 24 bridges and 14 street-level crossings.

The extension was fully funded by LA County’s Measure R, a half-cent sales tax that was approved by Los Angeles County voters in 2008 to finance new transportation projects and programs, and accelerate those already in the pipeline.