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COMMERCE : Depot Funds Hinge on State Budget


The Commerce City Council says it will wait until the state budget is signed before deciding whether to spend as much as $1 million to help build a commuter rail station along the Montebello-Commerce border.

"We hope that when the governor signs the budget we'll have enough information to know how much money will be cut from cities and can then discuss how much money we could commit (to the project)," said Ira Gwin, director of community development for the City of Commerce.

Earlier this month the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority recommended that the city help fund the station, which would be northeast of Garfield Avenue and Washington Boulevard, near Vail Avenue in Montebello. The council declined to pass the resolution and continued the measure until a state budget is signed by Gov. Pete Wilson.

The proposed Montebello station would be one of five operating on a 58-mile Metrolink line running from Riverside to Union Station in Downtown, according to Naomi Nightingale, of the authority's public affairs office. The other sites would be in Pomona and the City of Industry. However, delays in approving funds for the station could kill the project, some Commerce city officials say.

"The issue is: The longer we wait on the funding commitment, the greater are the chances that another city will secure funding and we'll be left out in the cold," Gwin said. "I think it would be a real disservice to our people, to all the business people in this area if the station isn't built." He estimated that as many as 37,500 people commute to Commerce daily.

Montebello has approved spending as much as $1 million on the station and is asking Commerce to pitch in $1 million for the project. Additional funds would be provided by the California Transportation Authority and the MTA. Building the station will take an estimated $4.7 million, including the cost of obtaining the land.

Metrolink requires station cities to pay for construction of the station, according to Peter Hidalgo, a spokesman for Metrolink.

Late last year, the Commerce City Council approved a resolution supporting construction of the station because it would serve commuters in both communities. However, the city did not commit to paying for the project.

Nightingale said that if Montebello fails to come up with enough money to pay for the station then "there simply won't be a station in Montebello."

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