Marking the first Measure M-funded rail project to move forward to construction, ground has broken on a $1.5 billion, six-station extension of L.A. Metro’s Gold Line light rail system.

The 12.3-mile extension, which is expected to take nine years to complete, will add new stations to the Metro Gold Line in the cities of Glendora, San Dimas, La Verne, Pomona, Claremont and Montclair. When completed, the Glendora to Montclair project will extend the Gold Line from its eastern terminus in Azusa through the foothill communities in the San Gabriel Valley and into San Bernardino County.

A Beacon Economics report released earlier this month predicted the extension’s construction will bring a string of economic benefits to the region, including nearly 17,000 jobs, more than $2.6 billion in economic output, more than $1 billion in labor income and nearly $40 million in tax revenues for Los Angeles County.

And once passenger service begins, the report predicted the extension will generate an annual benefit to the county of more than $52 million in economic output, $17 million in labor income and nearly $800,000 in tax revenues, while generating 277 jobs.

“We know that investing in public infrastructure projects like the Gold Line are economic engines,” said Habib Balian, CEO of the Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority. “But it is always impressive to see just how much each project directly benefits our region in job creation, economic activity and future revenues — it is a significant return on investment.”

“As we make transit more available in new communities, we are changing the face of Southern California and creating an infrastructure inheritance for our children and grandchildren,” noted Metro CEO Phillip Washington.

The Foothill Gold Line Construction Authority was created in 1998 to plan, design and build the Metro Gold Line light rail system from Union Station to Montclair. The agency completed the first segment (from Union Station to Pasadena) in 2003 and then the 11-mile extension east (from Pasadena to Azusa) in 2015; both phases were on time and under budget.

Funding for the project is coming from both Los Angeles and San Bernardino Counties. The portion of the project within Los Angeles County (Glendora to Claremont) is being mostly funded by Metro’s Measure M half-cent sales tax that was approved by voters in November 2016, as well as residual Measure R funds. The remaining portion (from Claremont to Montclair) is being funded by San Bernardino County.

Source: NBC Los Angeles