Sat, Jan

LAX Rail Access: Still Crazy After All These Years

GETTING THERE FROM HERE - It’s nice to know that some things never change, but it’s even nicer to know that longstanding problems can finally be resolved after decades of debate and discussion.  

Take for example the Green Line to LAX workshops, which are revisiting an old burr in the collective backside of taxpaying commuters throughout LA County and the Southland. (Link)

Is it more hot air?  Is it for real?  Haven’t we talked about this for many years now?  Or … since we now have Measure R money, will it become a reality just as we see the Expo and Wilshire rail lines moving from science fiction to science fact?

The Green Line Interagency Task Force, which was created by LA Councilmember Bill Rosendahl shortly after his election, brought together private and public transportation officials and consultants from LA World Airports (LAWA), the LADOT, Metro and even the FAA, and quite a few options were brought to the table for discussion and consensus.  

What we didn’t have then was the funding for a Green Line to LAX ($200 million) that we now have after the subsequent passage of Measure R.  We also didn’t have the funding to connect the Green and Expo Lines via the Crenshaw/LAX Light Rail project, a project that would tackle the huge problem of digging a FAA-required trench east of LAX to address concerns of light rail trains affecting airport operations and safety.

So the Green Line Interagency Task Force came up with a few conclusions to please all parties, including:

1) “Light Rail to LAX” meant Light Rail to Crenshaw/Aviation, which was the most logical location for Metro’s light rail lines, the LAX Automated People Mover and (in the unfunded, unforeseen future) Metrolink to all connect and converge next to LAX

2) The location of the Consolidated Rental Car Facility was critical for determining the location of the aforementioned Automatic People Mover, which would loop around the central airline terminals to connect with the Green and/Crenshaw Lines at Century/Aviation.

3) Metro was going to use acquired properties, rights of way and decades of planning to extend the Green Line west from Century/Aviation on Century Blvd., north on Airport Blvd., west on 98th Street and work its way to Parking Lot C, which is a terminus that would  have an airport-related transportation function as well as the potential to extend the Green Line in the future to either Lincoln Blvd., Sepulveda Blvd, or both boulevards in the decades to come.

But despite the logic and reasonability of these conclusions and plans, the craziness that’s plagued this MetroRail/LAX link since the creation of the Green Line still persists:

1) We still don’t have a countywide/Southland regional air traffic plan, despite the fact that commuters from Riverside, Orange and eastern LA Counties would all prefer to use Ontario, Burbank, John Wayne or Long Beach Airports; the cost and frequencies of air traffic all favor (if not force) airline travelers to use LAX instead of offering the choices available in all other major American metropolitan regions.

2) Metro owns key properties between Century/Aviation and Parking Lot C, and LAWA owns virtually all of the northeastern corner of Century/Aviation (Manchester Square), but despite a good likelihood that the Consolidated Rental Care Facility and the Metro Bus Center will be located at or near Century/Aviation, this is by no means a “done deal.

3) The question of whether LAWA’s People Mover will be buses, light rail or monorail remains unanswered—although if the People Mover was light rail then Metro and LAWA could more easily and cost-effectively maintain the Automated People Mover fleet using an economy of scale (same cars, technology and maintenance yards).

4) The looming threat of northward LAX expansion into Westchester calls into question whether the roads of the LAX circle (which very much are in need of repair) or some other route can or should be used for a near-future or distant-future Automated People Mover (So, Westchester, which is it … planes or trains?), while a constructed People Mover that used the current road configuration might “prevent” LAX from expanding north.

5) Does “Green Line to LAX” mean that the Westside can share in the regional Green Line, Crenshaw Line and Automated People Mover access (via Century/Aviation) by extending the Green Line to Parking Lot C in Westchester…because what does the Westside get from a Crenshaw/LAX rail line that is too far away from the heart of Westchester to be of benefit to the Westside?

And so things remain crazy, and crazily-unsettled, with respect to a true Green Line to LAX after all these years.  But we’re closer than we’ve been in decades, and with the passage of Prop. R it’s not crazy at all to seriously think about these ideas and come up with a plan that might actually be implemented within our lifetimes.

The remaining meeting time is below.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected] He is also co-chair of Friends of the Green Line. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) –cw

Tags: LAX, Green Line, People Mover, LA World Airports, Light Rail, Bill Rosendahl, LA County, LADOT

Last Metro Green Line to LAX Workshop:
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
6:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Veterans' Memorial Complex - Yanji-Iksan Room
4117 Overland Avenue
Culver City, CA 90230
Served by Metro Bus Lines 33 and 733 and Culver City Bus Lines 1, 3 and 7.
Free parking is available on site.

Spanish translation will be provided. Special accommodations and information in alternative formats are available to the public upon request. All requests for reasonable accommodations must be made three working days (72 hours) in advance of the scheduled meeting date. Please call the Project Hotline at 310.499.0553 or the California Relay Service at 711.

(Please visit Metro for more information.)   

Vol 9 Issue 68
Pub: Aug 26, 2011