MOVING LA - To a cynical City and County of Los Angeles that’s used to all sorts of promises and shortcomings when it comes to mass transit, such as the “Subway To The Sea” or “Subway Towards the Sea”, the only thing more confounding than a Green Line missing LAX is it missing it again. So when we read how the Green and Crenshaw Lines will somehow connect near but not at LAX, are we really missing LAX?
The good news: that’s not gonna happen. The bad news: there’s no one quick easy step to get the Green Line to the terminals at LAX, and there never has been a planned easy step despite decades of repeated studies on the matter.
It’s easy to conclude that getting the Green Line to LAX isn’t going to happen with the 3-4 planned steps involved with creating the Green and Crenshaw Lines projects funded by Measure R, after reading articles like that we just saw in the Times (Link).
It’s much harder—yet absolutely critical—to understand WHY things are happening the way they are if we take the time to learn the geography of the Green Line and LAX, which might be done with this helpful map borrowed from Wikipedia:
The current Metro Green Line east of Aviation/Imperial station (which is the current MetroRail connection to LAX via a bus shuttle) is predominantly east-west, but west of Aviation/Imperial station it is predominantly north-south.
Friends of the Green Line (FoGL), a small group of grassroots individuals who’ve studied and promoted the Green Line over the past decade, noted there were three key deficiencies of the Green Line, otherwise called “Green Gaps”:
1) The Green Line to LAX
2) The Green Line to the South Bay Galleria
3) The Green Line to the Norwalk Metrolink Station (and the entire Metrolink/Amtrak network)
It was concluded that fixing the first Green Gap would make the remaining two much more glaring and encourage future corrections as well, but Measure R currently addresses the first two gaps while the third gap has been placed on somewhat of a political/planning backburner by the Southeast Cities of Los Angeles.
Enter the Crenshaw Line, which was meant to connect the soon-to-open Exposition Light Rail Line (at Crenshaw/Exposition station) with the Green Line (at Aviation/Imperial station) via Crenshaw Blvd. and the Harbor Subdivision Rail Right of Way that extends southwards all the way into the South Bay, and you’ve got a lot of pieces of the puzzle that can all come together yet confuse the daylights out of anyone new to this network of rail lines.
Look again at the map above. The future Crenshaw Line officially stops at its southern terminus at Aviation/Imperial station, but very likely would continue an operational north-south route to the South Bay (where the Green Line South Bay Extension is diligently being studied by Metro). And wouldn’t Green Line trains potentially go either to the Crenshaw Line routing to the Mid-City, and/or the South Bay as well?
So when does the Green Line end, and the Crenshaw Line begin? And, if the map implies, the new MetroRail connection to LAX will be at Century/Aviation station via a LAX People Mover, how come we aren’t hearing more about that line, and why isn’t the line going directly into the terminals?
It needs to be emphasized that the Green and/or Crenshaw Lines will have a north-south configuration east of LAX because that’s where the Harbor Subdivision Rail Right of Way is. But the LAX People Mover, which might be a monorail or light rail, will be funded and operated by LA World Airports on LAX property.
The LAX People Mover, which even in the first planning phases of the Green Line 20-30 years ago, needed to be separated from the Green Line/MetroRail System both for security purposes and to avoid forcing all north/south-bound Green/Crenshaw Line commuters to take an obnoxious detouring loop to each and every LAX terminal.
The several Crenshaw/Green Line projects that we’re going to hear a lot about over the next few years are first-rate projects that will connect LAX workers and commuters from the Mid-City, Westside and Downtown. They will probably share a maintenance yard at Arbor Vitae/Bellanca (link), and enjoy coordinated operations that will have profound benefits to the entire county.
And there won’t just be a Green Line to LAX but at least 2-3 remote lines to LAX that will one day be the envy of other cities throughout the nation and even the world.
(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently cochairs 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 also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.) Photo Credit: LA.Streetsblog.com -cw
Vol 9 Issue 32
Pub: Apr 22, 2011