In preparation for the 2028 Olympic Games, Los Angeles County is investing in its currently disjointed public transit system by bringing a new Gold Line train station to La Verne less than a block away from campus.
The Foothill Gold Line light rail extension will connect Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties by building a new rail line from Montclair to Glendora. The La Verne station will be built on E. Street and Arrow Highway.
The development is being billed as preparation for Los Angeles’ commitment to host the 2028 Olympic Games by alleviating issues with traffic congestion and disconnected public transit systems.
Officials expect the extension to bring significant economic benefit to the city of La Verne and its economy.
“Others are more likely to travel to La Verne with [the Gold Line extension], helping to support our businesses and institutions like the University,” said Eric Scherer, community development director for the city of La Verne in an email.
Public transit is notoriously unreliable in southern California, but there is a hope that these new developments will help rectify the shortcomings that the state has traditionally experienced.
“[The Gold Line] brings the idea that mass transit is a possibility,” said Luke Seiberg, senior planner for the city of La Verne.
The Gold Line is also expected to be a valuable resource for students at ULV.
“It will provide even better connectivity to our region and provide endless opportunities for student internships and travel,” said Lisa Levy Buch, chief communications officer of the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority.
However, there are a few expected outcomes that may have adverse impacts on the community.
“It is also expected that La Verne’s homeless population will increase as a result of the Gold Line,” Scherer said.
The University has procedures in place to address this development if and when it presents itself.
“We already have a process in place with Campus Safety that deals with this issue,” said Clive Houston-Brown, vice president of human resources, information technology, facilities and safety.
“We will continue to follow that protocol. If there is a big increase (in homelessness), we will work with the La Verne Police Department to mitigate it.”
Devorah Lieberman, president of the University of La Verne, is unsure about the likelihood of an increased homeless population.
“I have not seen the data that supports the idea that the Gold Line will bring more homelessness,” Lieberman said.
The University was kept apprised of Gold Line developments, but it did not have any influence over the placement of the station, Brown said.
The proximity of the station’s placement to ULV was deliberate, and, according to Scherer, beneficial for the majority of La Verne residents.
“We strategically placed the station location at E Street and Arrow Highway so that it would equally serve Old Town La Verne, the University of La Verne, as well as the Fairplex, which in addition to the L.A. County Fair, holds over 500 other events throughout the year,” Scherer said.
“We also have developed the Old Town La Verne Specific Plan, which is the zoning document for this area, and allows for increased development that will be supported by having a light-rail station here.”
According to officials, many cities have also adopted similar plans to increase development around the rail line.
It is also expected that noise levels will be impacted by the introduction of new rail lines.
“It is going to be a mixed bag,” Brown said.
“More trains will be going by, but they will be the short Metrolink trains that do not need to sound their horn at every stop. The positive side is that (the city) will be creating quiet zones.”
The connection of these two counties is a result of over two decades of planning, designing, and development of the Metro Gold Line light rail system.
The development of the Gold Line began in 1998 after the California State Legislature created the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority to oversee the development of a new rail system that would span from Union Station in Los Angeles to Montclair.
The first installment, from Los Angeles to Pasadena, was completed in 2003.
It took 12 years to complete the project’s second installment from Pasadena to Azusa.
The funding for the project comes from a Transit and Intercity Rail Capital Program grant, in which 28 recipients were awarded more than $2.6 billion dollars that derives from Senate Bill 1, also known as the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017, which was signed into law on April 28, 2017.
The Los Angeles County portion of the project will be funded mostly by Measure M – a bill passed in 2016 that focuses on renovating dilapidated public transit systems and improving transit connection to jobs, schools and airports – but residual funds not spent from Measure R, a half-cent sales tax for Los Angeles County to fund new transportation programs, will also be exhausted.
Less than six percent of the project will take place in San Bernardino County, who is responsible for funding their portion of the Gold Line from Claremont in Los Angeles County to Montclair in San Bernardino County.
The city of La Verne is also working on a new initiative, “first mile/last mile,” that focuses on upgrading methods of transit to help residents or visitors get to and from the new Gold Line station.
It will make upgrades to infrastructure like sidewalks, bike lanes, crosswalks, traffic signals, and bike-share programs.
“I think (first mile/last mile) will have a positive impact,” Houston-Brown said. “You will get an increase in desirability in these stations that will draw interest from the commuter community.”
Lieberman believes that the Gold Line extension will have positive effects for students looking to get to the La Verne campus.
“Our mission at ULV is centered around accessibility and affordability,” Lieberman said. “The Gold Line will be great for students who might not otherwise have transportation to the La Verne campus.”
Christian Shepherd can be reached at email@example.com.