ALAMEDA/9"/mike1st/mark2nd

By HOWARD FINE

Staff Reporter

With construction of the $2.4 billion Alameda Corridor project barely underway, an effort to extend that high-speed rail route eastward through the San Gabriel Valley is making rapid progress.

Representatives from Los Angeles county and city and five San Gabriel Valley cities (San Gabriel, Pomona, the City of Industry, El Monte and Montebello) have formed the Alameda Corridor East Construction Authority, which will be responsible for overseeing construction of the $950 million, 70-mile corridor extension.

The authority has hired Pasadena-based search firm Shannon Associates to come up with candidates to be chief executive. A final decision is expected by March.

The authority has already secured $155 million in funding $135 million from Congress in the massive transportation bill passed last June and $20 million from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

Additional funding for the project, dubbed Alameda Corridor East, is expected to come from a combination of government agencies, as well as from the railroads and other private-sector sources.

Work on Alameda Corridor East could begin as early as next year, with completion expected in 2005.

"Right now, we have cars and trucks waiting for up to 24 minutes at rail crossings for mile-long trains to pass," said Nick Conway, executive director of the San Gabriel Valley Council of Governments. "If we did nothing, by 2020 economic growth and the increased rail traffic from the Alameda Corridor would result in a 300 percent increase in delays, which would mean total gridlock for several cities in the San Gabriel Valley."

Later this month, the authority is expected to send out a request for proposals to firms interested in doing an environmental impact report on the project. Work on the EIR is expected to begin next winter.

Leiga said the authority is currently in discussions with the San Bernardino County Association of Governments about the prospect of extending the project farther east, to the rail switching yards near Colton and San Bernardino. But a decision on that additional extension is several months away, he said.

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