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Light rail plan for Los Angeles International Airport advances

Airport agency and Metro, formerly with competing visions, get together on four possible light rail station sites at LAX.

December 18, 2012|By Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times
  • Taxis and other vehicles flow through Los Angeles International Airport. Two agencies are now working together to develop options that could tie the Green Line and the planned Crenshaw Line to a people mover at LAX.
Taxis and other vehicles flow through Los Angeles International Airport.… (Michael Robinson Chavez,…)

Plans to build a light rail connection to Los Angeles International Airport advanced Monday with the unveiling of four potential station sites that would link to a people mover serving passenger terminals.

After years of pursuing separate transportation plans for LAX, Los Angeles World Airports and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority now are working together to develop options for a rail stop that could tie the Green Line and the planned Crenshaw Line to the nation's third-busiest airport.

"Our work over the past six months has brought us light-years from where we were before," said Paul Taylor, Metro's deputy chief executive, who noted that environmental clearances must be completed and funding secured before construction of an LAX station could begin.

The most expensive options are two underground station designs inside the central terminal area, west of Sepulveda Boulevard.

Another proposal calls for a station to be incorporated into a planned transportation center adjacent to Parking Lot C, near the northeast edge of the airport. The facility would serve light rail trains, buses, taxis, ride-share vans and charter vehicles.

The fourth possibility is to put a station about a mile east of LAX at Aviation and Century boulevards at Manchester Square, where a consolidated car rental facility and additional airport parking are planned.

Wherever the station is located, it is expected to connect to an automated people mover that would ferry passengers to and from airline terminals.

Travelers using rail transit can get near the airport area on the Green Line. But they must get off some distance away at Aviation and Imperial Highway and board a shuttle bus to LAX.

Metro's share of the project cost ranges from $1 billion to $1.5 billion, depending on the option chosen, Taylor said. Airport officials do not yet have estimates of their share of the costs. If funding is secured, an LAX light rail station could be completed by 2020.

Los Angeles County Supervisor and Metro board member Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has pushed for the Crenshaw Line, praised the effort and warned against repeating the mistake of stopping rail service short of the airport.

"It's vital we move swiftly," Ridley-Thomas said. "The Crenshaw Line is scheduled to open in 2019, and we need to be well on our way to ensure the airport connection is not further delayed."

dan.weikel@latimes.com

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