State-owned parking lot at Montclair Transit Center seeks accommodation – San Bernardino Sun

It doesn’t sound like much.

Rows of parking spaces. Covered bus shelters. A platform to take a commuter train. And an independent daycare.

But the 8.7-acre Montclair TransCenter forms the link between future San Bernardino County transit options as well as new housing. This little-known train and bus depot on the border with Los Angeles County can handle parking for a light rail option as well as increased Metrolink service, in addition to adding the potential for hundreds of apartments and condos. adapted to public transport.

The vision of the small town of Montclair for an LA metro Gold Line Extension (now L Line) de Pomona remains at around half a billion dollars before it becomes reality. But that’s only part of the problem.

Meeting housing needs

The housing opportunities spurred by the nearly 29-year-old transit hub at 5060 Richton Street are already evident in northern Montclair and the town is trying to approve more units by purchasing some of the northern parking lots. center for future housing. To keep the number of spaces at 1,600, the city would build garages at the southern end.

But that ambitious plan was thwarted by one of the most powerful state bureaucracies: Caltrans, which, through an original land swap made decades ago, owns the 1,600 parking spaces at Montclair. TransCenter.

The city’s attempts to partner with Caltrans have not gone well.

In 2006, Caltrans put three plots up for sale as surplus state property. Caltrans said the city could buy the parking lots for $ 10 million but needed an answer in two weeks, Edward Starr, director of the city of Montclair, said recently. The city could not act so quickly and the offer was taken off the table, he said.

“Since then we have tried to acquire these plots,” Starr said. “But they can never give us a firm answer one way or another.”

Caltrans did not comment on the failed sale and declined to say whether the parking lots would be offered for sale in the city in the future. After several email questions went unanswered, the agency said it would take at least 10 days from Tuesday, October 5 to respond to questions or comments.

Without Caltrans’ cooperation, the city appealed to state lawmakers, saying a sale of the plots would facilitate high-density housing and help meet the state’s legislative goal for more housing, particularly near transit centers. A recent bill required Caltrans to sell surplus goods, but this was specific to land he acquired decades ago in South Pasadena along the canceled Hwy 710 extension.

Montclair’s long-term goals include purchasing the land for housing projects. Many existing projects now surround the transit center, built in recent years. The city’s specific North Montclair plan calls for “more transit-oriented development” so people can live close to transit and not drive their cars to and from work, thereby reducing smog and the greenhouse gases that cause climate change.

“People want to live near transit lines so they don’t have to own a car; they can walk to a train, ”said Montclair Pro-Tem Mayor Bill Ruh.

Create transit options

The Montclair TransCenter is the largest transit hub outside of Los Angeles, with 1,600 parking spaces, serving bus and train service.

“You won’t find a city this size that has such an extensive transit facility,” Starr said.

The center serves three regional bus agencies operating in three counties: Foothill Transit, which takes passengers to Los Angeles and the San Gabriel Valley on express buses and local buses; Omnitrans, which serves the San Bernardino valley; and Riverside Transit Agency (RTA) with bus service to downtown Riverside. The private FlixBus operates a service from nearby Montclair Place to Las Vegas.

Starr said Montclair is signing an agreement to bring Greyhound to the transit center. Ruh said this long-haul service could be a good way for people to travel to coastal towns or the Central Valley.

“Greyhound will be up and running by the first of the year,” Starr said.

The Metrolink commuter train line from San Bernardino to Los Angeles was the main reason the center was established in early 1993. Metrolink plans to reduce delays to 30 minutes. Also Redlands zero emission train which will run on a hydrogen fuel cell could arrive at Montclair, replacing regular diesel trains.

Montclair has been trying to get the L line, formerly the Golden Line, for years. But the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority was unable to extend the line from Glendora to Pomona, ahead of Claremont and Montclair, as initially planned due to rising costs.

The LA Union Station light rail line in Pasadena opened on July 26, 2003. An extension eastward from Los Angeles followed in November 2009, and then the line was built to the Azusa / border. Glendora, opening March 5, 2016. Work is 36% complete on the 9 mile extension from Azusa to Pomona. But extending the line further east to Claremont and then to Montclair in San Bernardino County has been in doubt since the price of Azusa’s full extension soared to 2, $ 16 billion, more than half a billion dollars more than budget.

The Gold Line Authority needed around $ 540 million to build it in Montclair, keeping an option open on the current contract. But the the state did not provide the money, and the option expires Thursday, October 7. Negotiating again for a 3.3-mile extension from Pomona to Montclair could increase the cost by $ 150 million or more, officials said.

Montclair, the towns of the San Gabriel Valley and the regional legislative caucus will ask the state to fund the expansion next year. Rep. Norma Torres, D-Pomona, took Rep David Price, D-North Carolina out last month to see if they could put the bill in a congressional infrastructure bill or receive funding from the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Although the project is not funded, it would not be considered without the Montclair TransCenter as a terminus, according to the Gold Line authority and city officials.

LA metro study estimates the L line would add 8,100 passengers per day from the Montclair TransCenter alone. The synergy of the light rail system would add 5,000 daily boardings to Metrolink, the same study concluded. The extension of the light rail line would remove cars from Highway 210, reduce congestion and reduce air emissions, according to the study.

With 1,600 parking spaces, the TransCenter is a must-see at the L line terminus, officials said.

“Parking is also a factor that affects the ridership model, so the number of spaces plays a role in the ridership estimates for Montclair station,” wrote Lisa Levy Buch, spokesperson for the Gold Line authority. , in a recent email.

With the east end of the streetcar in Pomona, this could be a parking issue if commuters in San Bernardino County travel a few miles to park in Pomona and take the line to Pasadena or downtown Los Angeles. Pomona station could be completed in early 2025.

“Pomona is not at all happy that they are the terminus,” Starr said. “We welcome him. We have the capacity. We can handle it.

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