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04.03.2013
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LAX transit link finally becoming a reality.
Courtesy METRO

For the many who have doubted that there would ever be a rail connection to LAX airport, there’s some very good news. It looks like it’s going ahead.

At the end of January, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) unveiled its LAX land use plan, known as the Specific Plan Amendment Study, or SPAS. The document, which calls for hundreds of changes to the airport itself—from new runways to enlarged and renovated terminals—includes a call for an automated people mover that could link the upcoming Crenshaw light rail line, the Metro Green Line, and the airport. Meanwhile, LA’s transit agency, Metro, has completed a preliminary “alternatives analysis” for an airport transit connector. Metro plans to complete its study this summer. Now the two agencies need to come together on how and where all these connections will take place.


The dashed green line shows possible connection from light rail to LAX Airport.
 
 

“We’re getting pressure from the public to just do a connection already,” said Roderick Diaz, Metro director of system-wide planning.

In addition to the construction of a people mover, LAWA’s SPAS plan calls for the development of an intermodal transportation facility at 98th Street and Airport Boulevard—east of the airport—that would contain shuttles, buses, and other transit options. According to SPAS, the people mover could be designed to link this facility and the airport, traveling on a new elevated guide way.

But the location of the people mover is still very much up for debate. In addition to the proposal of a path between the intermodal facility and the airport, and one linking the Metro Crenshaw and Green line stations at Century and Aviation Boulevards—further east than the intermodal option—to the airport, another option would see light rail traveling straight to the airport, from where it would connect to a people mover linking all terminals.

 

LAWA project manager Lisa Trifiletti pointed out that a people mover will be a part of the equation one way or the other because it is an efficient means of transportation capable of linking all terminals while not obstructing other transportation at the airport. The people mover also would be under the scrutiny of airport security, unlike a direct link via Metro’s rail lines. LAWA would pay for the people mover, said Trifiletti, while Metro would pay for any light rail connections.

“We will continue to evaluate all alternatives and combinations of alternatives to determine the best course of investment for Metro,” said Diaz. “There’s some good cooperation going on,” he added.

Metro hopes to have the connection completed by 2020. Trifiletti said the entire SPAS plan is scheduled to be carried out by 2025.

“We’ve made a tremendous amount of progress and we’re very proud to be working with Metro. We just have a tremendous amount of work to do,” said Trifilleti.

Sam Lubell