Gold Line light rail extension may not reach Claremont until 2028

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An extension of Metro’s Gold Line into San Bernardino County may arrive later than expected, and at a higher price, according to a revised financial plan from the agency overseeing the project’s construction.

Right now the light rail route ends in the city of Azusa, but more than $1 billion collected through voter-approved sales tax measures has been set aside to bring the train to Claremont. Further funds from San Bernardino County will pay for tracks to Montclair.

The 12.3-mile extension was slated to open in 2026, but a report from the Foothill Extension Construction Authority—the agency tasked with building the project—indicates that “a significant unfavorable shift in market conditions” has made it difficult to find contractors willing and able to complete the project in that timeframe.

Construction Authority staff are proposing an alternative plan expected to cost an additional $570 million, bringing the total project cost to $2.1 billion. It would also divide the project into two parts.

This would speed up the arrival of train service to three new stations, in Glendora, San Dimas, and La Verne. The line could begin traveling to these stops by 2024 under the new plan. But service to Pomona, Claremont, and Montclair would be delayed until 2028 or later.

The entire extension is one of 28 major transit projects that Metro aims to complete in time for the 2028 Olympics. Another is the Regional Connector, which will connect the northern portion of the Gold Line to the Blue Line, eventually allowing for single-seat rides between Long Beach and the Inland Empire.

Before pushing ahead under the new plan, the Construction Authority will have to figure out a way to pay for the higher cost of the project. The report presented Tuesday suggests that money collected through the state’s cap and trade program could be one source of the additional $570 million now required.

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