Los Angeles County dignitaries opened the first new stretch of Metro rail in nearly four years Saturday before a joyful, excited crowd of rail fans and residents of the San Gabriel Valley.
The $1-billion, 11.5-mile extension of the Gold Line will connect six stations in five cities to Southern California's fast-growing Metro rail network. The Gold Line is now 31 miles long, the longest in the system.
More than a dozen officials from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and cities along the route said the line would change the lives of San Gabriel Valley residents, who often sit in traffic on the freeways that lead to downtown Los Angeles.
"What was once a dream has now become a reality," said Joe Rocha, the mayor of Azusa, where Gold Line trains stop in downtown and near Citrus College and Azusa Pacific University. "For many of our families, the journey has just begun."
Others alluded to the possibility that the Gold Line could be extended further east to Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair. Some transportation officials have dubbed that the "Brain Train" because it will connect to the Claremont Colleges.
That extension is seen as a favorite for a list of projects that Metro would fund if county voters approve another sales tax increase in November.
"Are we going to stop in Azusa?" said John Fasana, the vice chair of the Metro board.
"No!" the crowd shouted.
"Are we going to go at least to Claremont?" Fasana yelled.
"Yes!" the crowd roared.