November 15: This Date in Los Angeles Transportation History

2009:  The Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension opens, bringing rail transit back to the area for the first time in 46 years.

The six-mile long light rail line runs between Los Angeles Union Station and East Los Angeles.

 

Gold Line Eastside Extension ribbon cutting

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The eight station line, including twin 1.8-mile tunnels with two stations under Boyle Heights, began construction in 2004 and cost $898 million.

A few days after its opening, Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Art Leahy thanked and congratulated all the employees who helped launch the Edward R. Roybal Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension, noting that  “it really is another example of the MTA revolutionizing Los Angeles.”

Leahy delivered the following statement to the LACMTA Board and staff following the opening:

During the weekend opening of the Edward R. Roybal Gold Line Extension to East Los Angeles, Metro carried 75,000 friends of the line to eight brand new stations on Sunday. As I traveled amongst them on the train and enjoyed the festivities at Union, Little Tokyo Arts, Mariachi and East Los Angeles Civic Center stations, I was filled with pride and moved by the history of the event that reconnected, by rail, one of our region’s oldest neighborhoods and a place where our diverse ancestries first called home in Southern California.

I was fortunate to walk into this success — a light rail line completed on time, within budget and without incidence and delivered into service of a deserving community, specifically due to the commitment of this Board and the outstanding efforts of staff throughout the agency.

In advance of the safety enhancements for the line recently approved by the board, additional safety measures were deployed on Monday morning with ten crossing guards positioned at the five schools closest to the alignment to assist students crossing Metro tracks. The guards escort children to and from school in the morning and in the afternoon and will be in place until June 20, 2010.

Additionally, traffic control officers have been stationed at key locations in the City and the County and will remain for the next two weeks to assist motorists crossing the tracks. The 24 Ambassadors remain on post from 6:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on weekends. In addition, over 200 bilingual Spanish/English warning signs have been posted on the right-of-way to ensure critical messaging is taking place.

Many residents throughout the area are enjoying the cultural richness of Boyle Heights and East Los Angeles for the first time as they have personally articulated to me and other staff riding the system.

Congratulations to the Board and the staff on this historic achievement!

 

Bruce Shelburne, Director of Scheduling and Service Development, noted that “everybody associated with this did a great job.”

Rail General Manager Mike Cannell expressed appreciation to his employees, particularly the 254 rail workers who moved 75,000 passengers at the Sunday opening.

 

Antonio Villaraigosa

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Banner breakthrough

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Inaugural confetti

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Back in 2001, the following promotional video built enthusiasm for a rail link between East Los Angeles and Downtown.

Part 1:

Part 2: