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Gold Line parking downsized?

The Arcadia City Council and Chamber of Commerce are trying to hold Metro to a promise it made to build the parking lot at the Arcadia train station for the Gold Line extension in a way that it could be expanded later from 300 spaces to 800 spaces as demand increased.

In recent months it has become apparent that those plans have quietly changed, which could lead to limited parking until an entirely new, expensive, and lengthy Environmental Impact Report and design change were to be completed and approved. Gold Line officials are now suggesting that train riders will simply and happily begin carpooling, walking, and riding buses and bikes to the station, thereby reducing parking demand.

Work is underway on an 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line from its current terminus at the Madre Villa station in Pasadena to Azusa. The new $18.5 mil. “iconic” bridge over the eastbound lanes of the 210 freeway into Arcadia is expected to be completed by September (the public is invited to meet the artist of the bridge design at the Arcadia Public Library on June 26). Meanwhile, work is beginning this month to demolish the train bridge over Colorado Blvd. to make room for a new, bigger bridge there. A bridge will then be built over Santa Anita Avenue — officials have yet to commit to  start date or schedule for this work. Those tracks will lead to the station and adjacent parking garage on the northwest corner of First Avenue at Santa Clara. Additional construction will be needed to expand the bridge over Huntington Drive at Second Avenue. The next leg after Azusa would be to Claremont and Montclair, and eventually to the Ontario Airport around 2025, though approvals and funding are still needed for the latter stages.

Station platforms (in yellow) have since been revised to be west of First Avenue adjacent to the parking garage.

When Metro was gathering support for the project, they promised that the Arcadia parking garage would initially be built with only two levels, but designed from the beginning to be constructed in such a way as to be easily expanded by as many as three additional levels of parking to handle up to 800 cars.

But during presentations at Arcadia City Council meetings and during questioning at Arcadia Chamber of Commerce Government Affairs Forums, it has been revealed that the current plans do not include the design of an expandable parking garage, and that the current EIR does not account for anything more than two levels of parking.

The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to adopt a resolution “requesting” the Metro Gold Line Foothill Construction Authority to design and construct the Gold Line Arcadia station parking structure to allow for future expansion of up to 800 spaces as required by the full build alternative as documented in the 2007 Final Environmental Impact Report and subsequent supplemental EIR.

That was just a few minutes after Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian, during a regular update of Gold Line progress to the Council, confirmed that the current plans for the parking structure call for a two-level garage with a capacity for 300 spaces (50 fewer than the planned station at Monrovia). He also confirmed that although the pillars of the garage are being built big enough to eventually handle three additional levels of parking, a new design and EIR would be required if and when demand increased for parking. But he said that based on current usage patterns, when parking garages reach capacity, train riders are finding more environmentally friendly ways to get to and from stations, such as bicycling and carpooling.

Later in the meeting, the Council approved $70,000 for a consultant to help the fledgling Arcadia Downtown Business Association establish a Business Improvement District to tax property owners in the area just south of the Gold Line station to create shops and entertainment in the area that will not only create a more enticing environment for local residents but that will also leverage the potential customers arriving and leaving the parking lot at the station.

— By Scott Hettrick

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