$500K secured for rail study ending at ONT

ONTARIO - KOA Corp. of Monterey Park and Ontario will conduct a $500,000 study of options for ending the Metro Gold Line at LA/Ontario International Airport, officials announced Wednesday.

The 12- to 16-month study will be under way in November.

Among its tasks, the team will hold community outreach meetings, assess public and private rights-of-way, conduct traffic analyses, and identify potential rail routes and station locations.

"This is momentous for us," said Habib Balian, CEO of Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority. "As you know, when you go after a project this size, it takes many years to come to fruition. We need to get started on this project."

Current plans include extending the line 24 miles from east Pasadena to Montclair in two phases, which still await federal approval and funding.

But adding an extra six to eight miles would bring the light rail line all the way to the airport, which is a terminus that makes a lot more sense than Montclair to many local, state and federal officials.

"I think it makes the line better," said Robert Clark, Community Development Director of Montclair, which has spent the past three years developing a mixed-use and residential "transit village" around its station.

"Everyone agrees the light rail should supply access to the airport," Clark said. "It'll probably strengthen the value of the line and our trans-center, too."

Ontario Mayor Paul Leon said the link to LA/ONT would give an expanding region an essential connection.

"The Inland Empire is growing. From 2000 to 2020, the area's population is expected to go from 3.26 million to 5.28 million - up by 2.02 million," Leon said.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa recently endorsed the link to LA/ONT with its potential to ease congestion at LAX by taking travelers directly to the Ontario airport instead.

Monrovia Mayor Rob Hammond said the future rail will also transport commuters to work, alleviating traffic.

"Imagine a future of lost productivity from people sitting on the freeway. Traffic is the further fracturing of the American family," Hammond said. "We need to get that fixed."

San Bernardino Associated Governments, Sanbag, and the Southern California Association of Governments, SCAG, are paying for the $500,000 study.

Since the actual route from Montclair to LA/ONT has not yet been carved out, public outreach will be a critical part of the project, Balian said.

A short video was shown at the end of the meeting, depicting the many destinations the extended line would offer travelers and concluding at LA/ONT.

Balian said the promotional video will begin airing on local cable channels in an effort to drum up public support for the project.