July 2021 Update
Last week, the City of Montclair transmitted a letter to the office of Governor Gavin Newsom, requesting his support of a proposed budget trailer bill appropriation of $540.5 million to complete the Foothill Gold Line light rail extension project to the cities of Claremont and Montclair ─ the Project has been renamed the "L" Line, but the Gold Line is still the commonly-used Project name. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti also announced his support for extending the Project to Montclair.
The proposed $540.5 million trailer bill appropriation, together with funding from the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA), would allow the Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority to complete the final leg of the Project from Pomona to Claremont and Montclair, achieving one of the major projects listed in Los Angeles County Transportation Authority's (Metro) Twenty-Eight by '28 initiative. Completing these 28 major transportation and transit projects by 2028 when the Los Angeles area hosts the 2028 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games would serve as testimony to the generational outcomes that can be achieved when the State and regional partners collaboratively participate. In Los Angeles County the Twenty-Eight by '28 initiative projects are supported with funding from Measure M (a countywide transportation sales tax initiative); and in San Bernardino County the Gold Line extension to Montclair is supported with funding from Measure I (a countywide transportation sales tax initiative) and other funding sources.
Funding for the Gold Line extension to Montclair must be completed no later than early September to provide the Gold Line Construction Authority ample time to complete funding agreements with the Project's contractor by October 7, 2021. The contract, awarded to Kiewit-Parsons approximately two years ago, includes a set price to complete the Project to the Montclair Transcenter. The Construction Authority must exercise the Pomona to Montclair Option by the October 7 date or the project would have to be rebid as a separate project and would likely result in increased costs due to labor and construction costs ─ the cost of steel, lumber and other building materials increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, although the prices of some commodities, particularly lumber, have dropped back down.
The Construction Authority and Metro must also complete a reimbursement agreement with the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA).
Engineering and construction for extension from Pomona to Montclair includes relocation of Metrolink tracks and laying temporary tracks for Metrolink and freight operations; demolishing and relocating the existing Metrolink station in Claremont and constructing new Gold Line stations in Claremont and Montclair (the Montclair Metrolink station would be expanded to accommodate the Gold Line station); and erecting light rail bridges over Monte Vista Avenue, Garey Avenue, Towne Avenue and Indian Hill Boulevard at a cost of approximately $30 million for each bridge.
Extension of the Gold Line is supported by approximately 15 regional state legislators representing the San Gabriel Valley and western San Bernardino County. The legislators, mostly from the San Gabriel Valley Legislative Caucus,” are making a concerted push for the State Legislature to allocate $540 million to close the funding gap and extend the light-rail line from Pomona to Montclair. The work would complete a 12.3-mile extension of the line currently under construction from Azusa to Pomona.
State legislators sent a letter to chairs of the Senate and Assembly budget committees requesting that state surplus dollars be used to finance completion of the Gold Line to Montclair. In May 2021, Governor Newsom committed approximately $5.3 billion of the State's $79 billion budget surplus for Fiscal Year 2021-22 to transit projects. State lawmakers who signed the letter include Senator Susan Rubio and Assembly Members Freddie Rodriguez, Chris Holden, Blanca Rubio and Ed Chau. The cities of Montclair and Claremont joined in the effort.
Assembly Member Chris Holden, who is a leading proponent of the Gold Line extension to Montclair, gained support from labor groups and Los Angeles County Supervisors Kathryn Barger and Hilda Solis. The project is projected to generate 17,000 jobs according to the Construction Authority.
The extension to Montclair has a completion date of 2028; however, the extension from Azusa to Pomona is one year ahead of schedule and is expected to provide fare service in early 2025. A separate study conducted by Metro indicates the Gold Line will achieve significant ridership gains, particularly out of Montclair, with projected ridership at approximately 8,500 daily boardings by 2042 based on headway improvements. The Metrolink San Bernardino Line is also projected to realize an increase in daily boardings, indicating that the Gold Line does not represent a threat to Metrolink ridership despite the fact that both rail services will operate out of Pomona, Claremont and Montclair.
At the federal level, Congresswoman Norma Torres pushed to include the Gold Line Extension Project in the Biden-Harris Administration's infrastructure plan. The Project would, however, need federal certification under NEPA, which would add further delay and costs.
Extending light rail to Montclair achieves a secondary outcome that complies with the Governor's initiative to build high-density residential and affordable housing near major transit hubs. The Montclair Transcenter functions as a major multimodal transit hub along the Metrolink San Bernardino Line. Extending light rail to the Montclair Transcenter greatly expands public transit routes to the region, and encourages Montclair's ongoing efforts to construct eight thousand to ten thousand residential units within one-half mile of the Transcenter.
Since 2006, the North Montclair Downtown Specific Plan has called for higher-density housing around the Montclair Transcenter, with the expectation that the Gold Line would be completed to the City. Several high-density housing projects have already been completed, including the Paseos Luxury Apartment, Arrow station, and the Alexan-Kendry. The Village at Montclair, a 360-unit mixed-use development is expected to enter its construction phase by early 2022. Other housing projects are also in the planning stage.
Light rail service to the Montclair Transcenter would also complement the multi-modal facility's bus and Metrolink commuter rail service. Greyhound is also expected to locate service out of the Transcenter. The Montclair Place District Specific Plan, approved last December, also includes housing as a major component for future development.
September 2020 Update
February 2020 Update
Senator Anthony Portantino introduced Senate Bill 1390, which would create a new construction authority to extend the Gold Line from Montclair to Ontario International Airport. The legislation is modeled very closely after the legislation that created the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority in 1998 and is similar, in some regards, to Assembly Bill 2011, authored by Assemblymember Chris Holden and introduced in January 2020.
Unlike AB 2011, however, SB 1390 requires the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) to complete the following transfers to a new construction authority (the "Montclair to Ontario Airport Construction Authority", or MOACA):
- The unencumbered balance of all local funds programmed for completion of the Gold Line Project in San Bernardino County (approximately $80 million developed locally for construction of the Montclair Segment);
- The unencumbered balance of all funds identified by a local transaction and use tax measure (Measure I); and
- An unspecified source of funding to MOACA for completion of the project ─ presumably, this language relates to any future funding developed for construction to Ontario International Airport (ONT). It is likely that funding to ONT would derive from federal, state and local sources, with the latter probably coming from the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) and a future extension of Measure I.
SBCTA would also be required to enter into an agreement that would transfer to a trust held by MOACA all real property interests held by SBCTA that are necessary for the planning, design, and construction of the project, at no cost to MOACA.
SB 1390 would require MOACA to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) authorizing Metro to review any significant changes to the scope of the design or construction, or both. Metro would be responsible for operating all completed phases of the Gold Line Extension, and SBCTA would be required to reimburse Metro for costs related to operating the Gold Line in San Bernardino County.
SB 1390 appears to correct many of the weaknesses of AB 2011, including the following:
- Creates a construction authority for the purpose of extending the Gold Line from Montclair to ONT. AB 2011 only created an agency to provide rail access to ONT, potentially creating jurisdictional ambiguity that leaves the mandate to extend the Gold Line to ONT vague.
- Requiring SBCTA to provide right of way (ROW) to MOACA consolidates jurisdictional authority and potentially eliminates disagreements over extension of the Gold Line to Montclair and ONT.
- Requiring SBCTA to turn over to Metro locally developed funding for the Montclair Segment would give the Foothill Gold Line Extension Construction Authority financial control over construction of the Montclair Segment; however, there remains no commitment of funds to extend the Project to ONT.
- Requiring MOACA to design the San Bernardino County portion of the Gold Line extension in accordance with Metro design criteria would guarantee effective integration with the greater Metro light rail system and provide for a coordinated meet up of the Gold Line extension at the Montclair Transcenter.
- Placing operational control of the San Bernardino County Segment of the Gold Line under Metro and requiring reimbursement by SBCTA of operating costs eliminates potential future conflicts over frequency of station stops, maintenance and safety issues, and other potential sources of disagreement.
Similar to AB 2011, SB1390 would require MOACA to be governed by a board consisting of seven voting members and one non-voting member. The city councils of the cities of Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga, and Upland would each appoint one voting member and alternate member to the governing board; and SBCTA, Metro, and the Ontario International Airport Authority (OIAA) would each appoint one voting member and alternate member. The non-voting member would be appointed by the Governor.
Assemblymember Holden has tentatively agreed to pull AB 2011, provided SBCTA makes concessions to commit to building the Gold Line to Montclair and, ultimately, beyond to Ontario International Airport (ONT). There is no indication that Senator Portantino would take the same stance.
The legislative drive to create a separate construction authority from Montclair to ONT was triggered by a September 2019 comment by the SBCTA Executive Director to "Throw in the Towel" on the Montclair Segment of the Gold Line, and redirect developed funding to other purposes. Since January 2020, the Executive Director has walked back his comments and the SBCTA Board has committed to securing the funds to complete the Gold Line extension to Montclair.
January 2020 Update
At the January 8, 2020, meeting of the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) Board of Directors, Board members approved motions that appear to reverse comments made in September 2019 that SBCTA should consider ending its collaboration with Metro on the Gold Line extension to Montclair and consider other alternatives. Specifically, the Board considered the following:
- Agenda Item 13. The Board recognized that in 2018, the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) secured a $290 million Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program (TIRCP) grant for Phase 2B of the Gold Line extension from Azusa to Montclair. Of this total, $41 million is allocated for work in San Bernardino County, from Claremont to Montclair. SBCTA staff had considered returning the $41 million to the state, but the agenda report now indicates SBCTA staff recommends retention of the funds. The Board approved retaining the $41 million TIRCP grant for construction of the Montclair Segment of the Gold Line extension.
- Agenda Item 14. The Board was asked to consider transferring the operation and maintenance of the Arrow hybrid-rail vehicles for the Arrow service (diesel-multiple trains operating between San Bernardino and Redlands) from Omnitrans to the Southern California Regional Rail Authority (SCRRA), as the Federal Railroad Administration identified railroad of record and the current commuter rail service provider in San Bernardino County. The Board recognized that a number of incorrect assumptions were made regarding costs and Omnitrans' operation of rail as a stand-alone service provider, and that rail-related services, including maintenance and operation, would be more cost effective if provided by SCRRA. The Board also recognized that the cost of liability insurance made rail service operations by Omnitrans cost prohibitive, and that SBCTA, through Omnitrans, would be entering into rail operations with no previous rail operations history, further resulting in risk and higher risk premiums. The Board approved awarding rail service operations to SCRRA, subject to acceptance of that role by SCRRA
- Agenda Item 17. The Board was asked to direct SBCTA staff on a funding strategy for the West Valley Connector (WVCA) Phase I Project that includes an allocation of up to $53 million in uncommitted transit funds and requests for at least $65 million in TIRCP grant funds, with contingency funding of up to $50 million in uncommitted transit funds in the case of unsuccessful grant requests. The WVCA is a proposed 35 mile-long bus rapid transit corridor that would connect the cities of Pomona, Montclair, Ontario, Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana. Holt Boulevard would serve as the corridor's backbone, with stations space 0.5 to 1 mile apart. Stations would be designed for fast boarding to facilitate higher operating speeds. The total project cost is $287 million. In December 2019, the Board identified a $118 million WVCA funding gap. To close the gap, SBCTA proposed seeking at least $65 million in grant funding from a variety of sources, and close the remaining gap with $53 million in uncommitted transit funds. However, if the WVCA funding gap is closed with grant dollars, the $53 million in uncommitted transit funds would be identified for other uses, including $17.4 million for construction of the Montclair Segment of the Gold Line extension. Uncommitted transit funds would be in addition to the $41 million in TIRCP funds approved for the Montclair Segment in April 2018, and $39 million in committed local and state formula dollars. If $17.4 million in uncommitted transit funds is made available, it would satisfy the $97.4 million requirement to construct the Montclair Segment. The funds would include the $41 million TIRCP + $39 million in state and local formula + $17.4 million in uncommitted transit = $97.4 million. The Board approved the recommendations.
The above SBCTA Board actions appear to affirm that the County's transportation agency is working to secure the required funding for the Montclair Segment of the Gold Line.
During a presentation made by SBCTA Executive Director Dr. Ray Wolfe, Dr. Wolfe stated that he and SBCTA are committed to building the Gold Line to Montclair and beyond to ONT as a means to achieve transit connectivity between the regions of Southern California. When funding is developed to extend the Gold Line from Pomona to Claremont, SBCTA will be prepared to move forward with its commitment to complete the extension to Montclair. Assembly Member Holden and Assembly Member Rodriguez reiterated their commitment to develop the funding that would build the Gold Line extension to Montclair.
October 2019 Update
At the October 7, 2019, City Council Meeting, the Montclair City Council adopted Resolution No. 19–3253 supporting the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority's planned optional Design–Build 2 extension of Gold Line Light Rail service from the City of Pomona to the City of Montclair, and further supporting retention of the Montclair Transcenter as the present eastern terminus of Gold Line Light Rail Service.
January 2017 Update
In January, the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority Board of Directors approved an updated project schedule for the 12.3-mile, six-station Foothill Gold Line light rail extension from Glendora to Montclair. The updated schedule is based on detailed constructability reviews conducted as part of the advanced conceptual engineering phase and a more extensive understanding that the next segment is really two major construction projects in one – first the freight and Metrolink relocation/reconstruction, and then the light rail system construction. The project will break ground in October 2017 and is anticipated to reach substantial completion in late-2025 to early-2026. The first year will be spent relocating utilities, conducting other pre-construction activities, and hiring a design-build contractor. A contractor is anticipated to be hired in late-2018 for the seven to eight year, design-build project. Plans are still being developed for the ground breaking ceremony. As more is known, we will share the details.
Below is the updated Glendora to Montclair work plan, approved by the Construction Authority board at their January 2017 meeting:
Click here to learn more about funding for the Foothill Gold Line from Glendora to Montclair.