Study on better connecting LAX to Metro Rail to be considered by Metro Board

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It’s one of those planning questions that’s only — and I say ‘only’ sarcastically — several decades old: how to improve mass transit to Los Angeles International Airport?

A study to answer that question may soon be underway. The Metro Board of Directors on Thursday is scheduled to vote on a contract of about $4.7 million to STV/PB-ConnectLAX Joint Venture to conduct environmental studies for a transit project to connect the Green Line and Crenshaw/LAX Line to the terminals at LAX.

As the Metro staff report states, some of the alternatives to be considered — but not limited to — include light rail, bus rapid transit and an automated people mover. The city of Los Angeles agency that runs LAX is already studying a people mover as part of its airport modernization plans.

The Crenshaw/LAX light rail line will stop at Aviation and Century boulevards, to the east of the airport grounds (see the above map). It’s closer to LAX than the current Green Line Aviation/LAX station, but still about 1.8 miles to the Tom Bradley International Terminal. The Crenshaw/LAX Line will also allow westbound Green Line trains from Norwalk to turn north and continue to the Aviation/Century station on the new Crenshaw tracks.

A project to connect the Green Line and LAX was included in the list of projects to be built with Measure R funds — in fact, state elected officials from the South Bay and Westside wouldn’t have let Measure R go to voters without it.

It’s also a closely watched project outside of Los Angeles: At a recent field hearing in Westwood, Rep. John Mica (R-Florida), who chairs the House’s transportation committee, recently spoke of his great desire to travel to and from the congested LAX area by train.

Mica is also in a position of great influence: the next federal transportation spending bill has to pass muster with his committee. Metro is seeking to have that bill include language to accelerate the construction of Measure R projects by having greater access to federal loans and other financing.