AZUSA (CBSLA.com) – A worker used a gold hammer to drive the last of 300,000 “e-clips” into place Saturday morning during a ceremony marking a significant milestone in the construction of Metro’s Foothill Gold Line between Pasadena and Azusa.

Well over 100 people, including leaders from cities along the 11½-mile extension and beyond, gathered for Saturday’s event at the site of the future Azusa Downtown Station.

Among them was Gold Line rider Rico Ongjoco, who told CBS2’s Joy Benedict he is already a loyal rider, but looks forward to picking up the train a lot closer to home.

“I will be getting on at Monrovia station about a mile from my house,” said Ongjoco, who has taken the Gold Line to work in downtown Los Angeles for years.

Right now Ongjoco has to drive to Pasadena first, then get on board.

“From Pasadena it’s about 30 minutes to Union Station,” he said.

That’s less time than it would take him to drive, and a month’s fare is only about $100. There are other benefits as well, he said.

“I don’t have the stress of driving, fighting traffic, changing lanes,” Ongjoco said.

City leaders who attended Saturday’s ceremony are anxious to get this train moving. They are hopeful that tying the cities along the line to Los Angeles means more business, more residents and more money for the communities to the east.

The $2 billion, 12-station extension has been in the works since 2001. A further 12-mile extension to Montclair is in the planning stage.

“There’s a huge momentum for folks to have an option now to get out of their cars,” said Foothill Extension Construction Authority CEO Habib Balian.

The e-clips permanently attach the steel rail to the concrete ties, and completion of that work is an important step, although not the last one. Commuters will have to wait about a year before they can ride this portion of the line.

Balian said significant work remains to be done.

“All the systems and communication equipment will be installed,” he said.

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