[IMAGE]L-A-Metro-Eastside-full.jpg[/IMAGE]Federal, state and local elected officials, along with Los Angeles Metro executives and community leaders gathered Saturday morning at the new Metro East LA Civic Center Station for the official dedication ceremony of the Edward R. Roybal Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension.
Under construction for five years and coming in on budget with a four-million plus hour construction safety record, the six-mile Eastside Extension links East L.A. with downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena, as well as with the Metro Blue and Green light-rail lines, Metro Red and Purple subway lines and the Metro Orange Line dedicated busway.
Together these lines crisscross Los Angeles County, connecting the Eastside with Long Beach, Redondo Beach, Norwalk, Hollywood, Pasadena and the San Fernando Valley. The Exposition light-rail Line, which is now under construction, will also connect L.A.'s Westside with downtown Los Angeles and the Eastside Extension.
"The Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension will become the mobility centerpiece to an already vibrant community, as well as benefit the entire region by reducing traffic and air pollution and encouraging business development near and along the alignment," said Ara Najarian, chairman of Metro. "And it's representative of the many Measure R funded projects MTA will be completing during the coming years that will reduce traffic and jump-start the economy of our region."
The Eastside Extension train carrying officials from Union Station broke through a banner as confetti and fireworks cannons fired and a band played, marking the beginning of the hour-long event. Among those attending were U.S. Congress members Lucille Roybal-Allard, Grace Napolitano and Judy Chu; California Senator Gil Cedillo; California Assemblyman Mike Eng; L.A. County Supervisor Gloria Molina; L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; L.A. City Council member Jose Huizar; Board Chair Najarian; Metro CEO Art Leahy; and Diana Tarango and Art Herrera, co-chairs of the community's Review Advisory Committee.
"For the first time in nearly half a century — since the last trolley ran down 1st Street -- rail will again carry passengers from downtown L.A. to East Los Angeles," said Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. "This caps a 20-year battle to bring rail back to East L.A. — one of the most transit dependent communities in Los Angeles. But this is not the end of the ride. Thanks to the passage of Measure R, there will be local funding for half a dozen new rail projects in the next decade, which will give Angelenos even greater transit access to jobs and other opportunities throughout the county.”
The Saturday morning official dedication was in advance of the public opening of the Eastside Extension on Sunday. The Sunday event featured free rides and community celebrations at and around four stations: East LA Civic Center, Mariachi Plaza, Little Tokyo/Arts District and Union Station. Regular revenue service will begin Monday.
The six-mile Eastside Extension has eight new stations, two of them underground at Soto and Mariachi Plaza, and 1.7 miles of underground track. It is decorated with art created specifically for each station and landscaping that will grow to enhance the neighborhoods. This opening brings the Metro Rail system to a total of 79 miles of rail — all built during the past 20 years. Groundbreaking for the line, which was constructed by Eastside LRT Constructors, was in July 2004.
The Metro Gold Line Eastside Extension is supported by a confluence of buses to further extend its reach into the neighborhoods. More than 20 bus lines — including those serving L.A.'s downtown Union Station — connect the Eastside Extension with greater Los Angeles County. Atlantic Station, for example, is the location of a mini-bus hub for East Los Angeles and is served by six lines. Other stations, such as Indiana Station, are served by local buses as well as municipal carriers including Montebello Transit.
Edward R. Roybal, for whom the Eastside Extension is named, was a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years, and a staunch supporter of efforts to bring rail to the Eastside, said his daughter U.S. Representative Lucille Roybal-Allard, during the dedication ceremony.