Mayor Backs Plan To Extend Light Rail To Ontario Airport
Expansion Plan Needs Approval From MTA
POSTED: 2:56 pm PDT September 25, 2007
LOS ANGELES -- As part of a plan to reduce congestion at LAX while increasing regional air-traffic capacity, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced his support Tuesday for extending a proposed light rail line to city-operated Ontario International Airport.
Ontario Mayor Paul Leon and San Bernardino County Supervisor Gary Ovitt met with the mayor to discuss the possibility of extending the Metro Gold Line east to Ontario, even though the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has yet to approve any extension of the downtown-to-Pasadena line.
The MTA is considering a proposal to extend the light rail line 22.4 miles from Pasadena to Montclair. Last year, Ontario officials announced their support for making the Ontario airport the end of the line.
"Ontario must be a major point of entry into Southern California," Villaraigosa said at a City Hall news conference. "I think we're actually onto something here. Stopping in Montclair doesn't quite do it. Taking it to Ontario makes this something that we have to look at."
The mayor said he wants to increase the number of passengers at Ontario airport from 7.9 million a year to 30 million by 2025. The relationship between LAX and Ontario would be similar to that of O'Hare International Airport, a major international hub, and Chicago Midway International Airport, which serves mainly smaller, domestic flights, Villaraigosa said.
"I think we're going to have to continue to strategize, to figure out how to get air traffic to Ontario," Villaraigosa said.
Part of that strategy may include increasing maintenance and operation fees at LAX.
"There's no incentive to go to Ontario when it's cheaper to fly into LAX," the mayor said.
The MTA board, of which Villaraigosa is a member, will consider the Foothill Extension in the spring as part of its Long Range Transportation Plan. The MTA estimates the extension will cost $1.772 billion in 2015 dollars, and could take at least a decade to design and construct.
The extension will compete for funding against plans to extend the Metro Orange Line busway, Metro Purple Line subway, the second phase of the Metro Expo Line, connecting the Metro Green Line to LAX, a transit line from Long Beach to Pasadena, and various highway projects.
The Sierra Madre Weekly
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigoza, who has displayed an ambivalent attitude in the past toward the Gold Line foothill extension, has come out in support of a proposal to build the light rail to Ontario Airport.
The line is now planned to extend to the Montclair Transit center, but studies are underway to consider extending to the airport, which is owned by Los Angeles.
The LA mayor is being supported in his proposal by San Bernardino Supervisor Gary Ovitt and Ontario Mayor Paul Leon.
Villaraigosa has supported the Gold Line in the past, but has also backed LA projects such as the Exposition Line, and a project he proposed for extension of the Red Line from the San Fernando Valley to the harbor area.
The Gold Line currently ends in East Pasadena, but the construction authority is now working for federal support to build a two-stage extension to Montclair. The San Bernardino Association of Governments, known as SANBAG, has been a part of the planning process.
Los Angeles is trying to shift air traffic to Ontario to take some of the pressure off Los Angeles International. The Ontario Airport now carries 7.9 million passengers a year; planners would like to boost that figure to as many as 30 million.
http://www.coremg.net/newspapers.php?pa ... oryid=1437
Gold Line Is Under Construction
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 14, 2007 - Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has reversed course and is now endorsing the extension of a light-rail train line from Pasadena through Montclair and out to Los Angeles-Ontario International airport.
Transportation activists in the San Gabriel Valley and San Bernardino County are hoping to attract state funds to bring the Gold Line east from its current terminus in Pasadena about 35 miles east to the airport, passing on an old Santa Fe rail alignment through Montclair.
Villaraigosa had been reluctant to endorse the Gold Line extension to Montclair, much less Ontario. He has been campaigning for funding to extend the Wilshire Boulevard subway west through the Fairfax District, Beverly Hills and West L.A. to Santa Monica.
But the mayor's spokesman, Darryl Ryan, told the Valley News that providing rail service to Ontario International would accomplish the city's goal of regionalizing airport services and relieving congestion at and surrounding LAX.
"We want to make sure resident of Los Angeles and all over the county have transportation alternatives," Ryan told the paper. "Extending the Gold Line to Montclair is important in that respect."
Duarte City Council member John Fasana praised the Los Angeles mayor's warming up to the mass transit project through the San Gabriel Valley and western San Bernardino County.
Gold Line extension advocates note that environmental studies have been completed, the old Santa Fe railroad line has been purchased, and Gold Line construction could begin within a year. The proposed "Subway to the Sea" may be morethan a decade away from construction.
The Gold Line already runs parallel to the Pasadena (110) Freeway from Los Angeles Union Station northeast to Pasadena, and then east down the middle of the Foothill (210) Freeway to Sierra Madre Boulevard. An extension now under construction will bring light rail service from Union Station southeast to Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles.
http://abclocal.go.com/kabc/story?secti ... id=5706897
OUR VIEW: Villaraigosa's support is important to a project that makes great sense for the region.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's endorsement of studying extension of the Gold Line all the way to Ontario's airport provides a major boost for the project.
That's because, up until now, L.A.'s powerful mayor has favored urban projects, like the so-called "Subway to the Sea," over the eastern extension of the Gold Line. Because the transportation funding pot is only so large, Villaraigosa's support for new rail lines on L.A.'s Westside has painted him as almost a de facto opponent of the Gold Line.
But the recent push to extend the Gold Line all the way to LA/Ontario International Airport has captured the mayor's attention because it fits with his goal of regionalizing Southern California's air services and relieving traffic congestion - or at least keeping it from getting worse - around LAX.
Villaraigosa gave his blessing to a planned $500,000 examination of the possibility of moving the planned eastern terminus of the light rail line from Montclair to L.A./ONT.
If any part of that study is supposed to determine whether it's a good idea to have the Gold Line end at the airport instead of at Montclair's rail and bus center, we can save them some money:
It is absolutely a good idea.
Connecting trains and airports is eminently sensible, particularly in traffic-clogged Southern California. It's maddening that Metro's Green Line stops short of LAX, for example, instead of smoothly transporting rail riders to the airport. In contrast, the Bay Area's BART rail system connects to the airports in San Francisco and Oakland.
Consider a resident of Pasadena or Azusa 10 years or so from now - when the Gold Line extension might be finished - who wants or needs to take a flight. If the trains roll right to LA/ONT, that would be an easy airport to reach. But if the Gold Line stops in Montclair, requiring a transfer via bus (or a couple of buses) to reach the airport, it might not be the way to go.
Or imagine a traveler in that future flying into LA/ONT, riding the Gold Line from the airport to Montclair and transferring to a Metrolink train that runs to downtown L.A. It only makes sense for the whole region to have that kind of connectivity.
Another mayor, Ontario's Paul Leon, sees it. "It gives you a destination at both ends: `I'm heading to Los Angeles' or `I'm heading to the airport in Ontario," he said in an aviation summit at LA/ONT in March.
The extension study will take 12 to 16 months and will include government representatives from Ontario, Upland and Rancho Cucamonga. It will involve public meetings to determine possible routes the line would take to the airport.
Villaraigosa's support gives the Gold Line project more leverage, said Habib Balian, CEO of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority.
And it's going to need it. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority is going to have to approve about $8 million a year for the Gold Line's operating expenses in order to give the project a chance at necessary federal funding, said John Fasana, a Duarte councilman and MTA board member.
At the federal level, the extension has strong backing from Reps. David Dreier, R-San Dimas, and Adam Schiff, D-Pasadena.
We'd like to see the whole MTA board join Mayor Villaraigosa in backing the Gold Line extension to LA/ONT. It only makes sense for the whole region.