Pride and inspiration were awesome morning sentiments… unexpected ones. I’d convinced my bud Steve to go with Terry and I to the opening of a new Metro maintenance facility in Monrovia. We’d been studying it for our Metro solar works, and were excited to get on site. Our Memorial Day weekend kickoff was memorable. Hundreds of people came together to celebrate rail.
Why? The Gold Line now runs from downtown LA to Pasadena. Phase 2A of the Foothill Gold Line Extension is near complete, the tracks are laid, and we were there to celebrate a big milestone with the opening of a key facility. It’s exciting to residents of this part of the world. They’re getting connected.
Phase 2A runs from Pasadena to Azusa and includes 11.5 miles of track through six cities — Pasadena, Arcadia, Monrovia, Duarte, Irwindale, and Azusa — six stations, the maintenance and operations facility is now complete with a new name: the Foothill Gold Line Operations Campus. The entire segment is expected to be fully commissioned by September. Phase 2B will span from Azusa to Montclair. Ultimately the line will run to the Ontario Airport. This drew many rounds of applause from the crowd.
The crowd surprised me too. There were throngs of people, there were dozens of dignitaries. The press was there in force; a high school jazz band of horns and drums driven by the teacher on electric bass. Speeches until the rhetoric began to hurt; applause until our palms were red… and then more! This was remarkable. There were touching moments, like when the former mayor of Monrovia was saluted and flowered for her key role in making it happen. We were there to celebrate and rejoice.
The Foothill Operations Campus is a 24-acre, rail maintenance facility. There are six miles of track on site to maintain and store up to 84 vehicles. The main shop is LEED Gold certified, powered by the sun and with stormwater capture on site. Nearly 200 staff will work at the 24*7 facility. The site facilitates inspection, heavy repairs, “blow-down,” wheel truing, body repairs, painting, storage, cleaning, and washing. There’s a public viewing area of the site, and an artistic theme featuring the California poppy, the derivation of the term “the Golden State.” It was Spanish explorers sailing off the coast who named California “the land of fire” as widespread poppies burst in color.
The facility was built on budget — $265 million – and completed three months ahead of schedule. Now the Foothill Extension Construction Authority will turn over the facility to Metro, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority. After the speeches we get the opportunity to meet the new CEO of Metro, Phil Washington. He’s just moved from Denver to take the helm, and now lives in Pasadena and like us takes the Gold Line to work.
We also meet and congratulate Habib Balian the project manager for the site who was front and center of accolades. Super guy. We meet and congratulate the facility’s architect, Roland Genick, who tells us about the 178.5 kW solar system on the Maintenance of Way building, a facility whose primary function is to maintain and repair the system’s mainline track components. Solar was an afterthought, a means to achieve LEED Gold for the main shop building and to show off progressive design to passer-byes on the nearby 210 freeway. Its 714 transparent Lumos frameless panels and the MOW’s twisted rooftop are indeed elegant.
Currently, the Metro system in Los Angeles is experiencing major growth, with five new lines under construction concurrently thanks to Measure R that passed by a slim margin in 2008. It called for a half cent sales tax increase for 30 years to raise $40 billion for the construction. The lines under construction now are the Gold Line Foothill Extension, Expo Line Phase 2 (to Santa Monica), the Crenshaw-LAX Light Rail, the Regional Connector, and the Purple line Extension. City and county transportation advocates – galvanized by the MOVE LA – are now promoting a second ballot initiative – “Measure R2” – to take LA mass transit to an even higher level. It would levy a half cent sales tax, county wide for 45 years to fund up to $90 billion in additional transit infrastructure.