Senior Democratic Rep. David Price from North Carolina looked out the bus window and tried to imagine a new light rail train line stopping at Montclair and Claremont, connecting passengers to the foothill cities of Los Angeles County .
This week, the chairman of the Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development Appropriations Subcommittee and a member of the House Appropriations Committee was invited by committee member Rep. Norma Torres (D-Pomona) to travel to the two cities. The congresswoman and officials in both cities hope to sow the seeds of stagnant projects in the controversial infrastructure bill introduced by President Joe Biden.
Although the U.S. Senate passed a $1 trillion infrastructure plan last month, the House of Representatives is still discussing different versions and related settlement bills that can pay for local public transportation projects, such as the L Line (formerly the Gold Line) The unfunded extension of Pomona to Claremont and Montclair. Currently, the Montclair expansion project is priced at approximately US$540 million.
“Of course I think we should explore,” Price said on Monday, September 13, after the bus tour ends at the Montclair Transportation Center, the line will terminate. “The purpose of this visit is to understand the project and use a more sensible approach when we consider funding sources. I am open to such considerations.”
On Tuesday, Price and Torres referred their case to D-Redlands Representative Pete Aguilar. The three plan to discuss the injection of federal funds into the L Line extension and other inland empire transportation projects. Torres said that Earlier Monday, Price and Torres visited the Málaga Bridge in Fontana, hoping to fund a $15 million reconstruction, including the expansion of the Piedmont Boulevard and the construction of sidewalks and bicycle paths.
“I think it is absolutely possible for this kind of funds to enter our region. I think President Biden is really looking for the opportunities we see today,” Torres said on Monday.
The L line from Los Angeles Union Station to Pasadena opened on July 26, 2003. It was then extended to East Los Angeles in November 2009, and then the line was built to the Azusa/Glendora border, which opened on March 5, 2016. The project has completed 36% of the 9-mile extension from Azusa to Pomona. However, since the price of the full extension from Azusa soared to US$2.16 billion, exceeding the budget by more than US$500 million, the extension of the line to Claremont and then to Montclair in San Bernardino County has been questioned.
Price visited Montclair a few days after the state appropriations bill failed to pass the L line linking Pomona and Montclair 3.3 miles. The local project bill died due to funding related to high-speed trains. This was a controversial and more costly project that did not receive the support of most legislators.
In order to obtain federal funds, the L Line extension needs to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act. Officials say this requires a federal environmental review, and this process may take two to three years to complete. The expansion project from Pomona to Montclair was originally scheduled to open in 2028. However, even with federal funding, it may be postponed to 2030 or 2031.
“Local leaders need to decide for themselves whether this is a project they want to federalize,” Torres said. “If they make this decision, we hope to be prepared at the federal level.”
Local officials said they will seek state funding again next year. But by talking with members of Congress on the Appropriations Committee, they are hedging their bets.
“We need to choose. Montclair City Councillor Bill Ruh said there is no one-size-fits-all approach. “We need to think about what we can do to achieve this goal. If it is not a state government, it is a federal government or a coalition government. “
Ruh, who co-led the bus tour on Monday, said electric light rail trains are less polluting than commuter rail. In addition, fares are much cheaper, and the operating frequency of light rail is higher than Metrolink. Most importantly, it runs along the 210/Foothill Freeway corridor, rather than along the 10 Freeway like Metrolink, and takes passengers to the City of Hope in Duarte and employment centers in Arcadia, Pasadena, and Los Angeles Chinatown And cultural attractions.
Data from the Jinxian Construction Bureau shows that of the 3 million trips along the 210 corridor, 97% are by car and only 3% are by public transportation.
Claremont City Councillor Ed Reece pointed out during the visit that this train will provide transportation options for 8,500 students and 3,500 faculty and staff at Claremont College. He told Price in a recent study that estimated that extending the route would add at least 8,000 boardings a day.
“You can imagine how it will affect our highways and our environment in a positive way,” he said.
Will bringing members of Congress to Montclair and Claremont achieve funding? This remains to be seen.
“This is definitely building momentum,” Lu said. “They must see and understand it.”