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Campaign urges Metro extension

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Tiffany Vlaanderen
Staff Writer

Focussing on the urgency of extending the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension to the eastern San Gabriel Valley and Inland Empire, the I Will Ride Campaign is a call to action to finish what was started.

The Metro Gold Line currently connects commuters from Pasadena to Los Angeles’ Union Station by light rail.

“One aspect that distinguishes the line is many colleges and universities run along the Gold Line,” Susan Hodor, director of public affairs for Metro Gold Line Construction Authority said.

The Metro Gold Line Construction Authority is an independent transportation agency that has given autonomy to a team at Mt. Sierra College to handle the student initiative of the campaign.

A team of students and an advisor utilized their graphic design skills to create the Web site, posters, and overall face of the I Will Ride Campaign.

“The Gold Line really is the education line,” Hodor said.

The proposed extension would encompass 11 cities in the San Gabriel Valley foothills, including La Verne, and could possibly reach the Ontario International Airport if the extension is made.

Metro, however, has not included the extension in the budgeted plan of its draft of Long Range Transportation, but rather the project remains in the list of strategic projects – if additional funding becomes available.

The I Will Ride Campaign serves as an outlet for those who believe Metro should connect the San Gabriel Valley and the Inland Empire with Los Angeles via mass public transportation.

Supporters can sign a petition accessible online, pledging that they “will ride” if Metro decides to invest.

“This is a perfect example of how a business would work. The campaign is marketed for students with bright colors and confrontational phrases to grab attention,” Hodor said.

The extension illustrates bipartisan efforts of several members of Congress joined Congresswoman Hilda Solis of California’s 32nd district on March 26 in Azusa in a press conference to “Walk the Line” in support of the project.

“Investment in the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension is critical to our region’s economic growth,” Solis said. “For every $1 we spend on transportation infrastructure, our communities gain $6 in jobs and economic development.”

So far, communities have invested over $2 billion in development projects throughout the Foothill Extension corridor.

A total economic development benefit of around $40 billion is projected from now until 2030 in the form of revenue.

David Dreier, Congressman of California’s 26th district, joined Solis in highlighting the economic and population benefits of the Foothill Extension.

“The population growth extending from the Foothills through to the Inland Empire is increasing traffic and increasing the demand for the Gold Line extension,” Dreier said. “There is a clear need for this extension, and we are working hard to build support for it.”

Several student leaders attended the conference to show students’ commitment to the project.

ASULV President Jonathan Fitzhugh was there to represent ULV. Azusa Pacific University and Citrus College have already committed to the extension, as it will provide a station just at the foothills of their institutions.

Associated Student Body President of Citrus College, Andrew Crest, shared a few words to raise awareness about the I Will Ride Campaign.

“It’s easy to sign the petition and to make video blogs to show your support,” Crest said.

Topping the numerous reasons to support the extension: population growth in the east, economic growth projections, and employment opportunities in the valley.

It is supporters belief in the project’s readiness to be made a reality.

In terms of environmental clearance, level of engineering and design and municipal and public support, the Foothill Extension is ahead of other projects under construction in Los Angeles County.

The I Will Ride Campaign is a tool for students and supporters of the Foothill Extension to push forward and voice their concerns for connecting the metropolis with the suburbs to the East.

So far, the campaign has generated more than 1,000 signatures since the beginning of March.

“We’re Ready, Are You?” is more than a slogan for the Foothill Extension, it’s a reality.

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