One of the more notable Measure R projects under study is the Airport Metro Connector, which seeks to connect the Metro Rail system to Los Angeles International Airport.
The latest: Metro staff in collaboration with Los Angeles World Airports (the city of Los Angeles agency that oversees LAX) are recommending four possible connections between a people mover the airport plans to build and the Crenshaw/LAX Line and/or the Green Line for further analysis in an upcoming draft environmental study. The four alternatives are shown above.
Staff are also recommending that four alternatives that had been previously studied be eliminated from further study: a bus rapid transit alternative and three alternatives that would have run a rail line directly into the airport’s terminal area.
As the staff report explains, the high cost, travel time impact to non-airport riders and LAWA concerns about the risk of tunneling under critical facilities such as runways and terminals were considerations in this recommendation. Another important consideration are Federal Aviation Administration restrictions concerning construction in the flight path zone.
Here is what is important to understand: Even if light rail could get directly into the airport’s central terminal area — likely via an extremely expensive tunnel — many travelers would still need to transfer to a people mover to reach the different terminals. In other words, all options involve both light rail and a people mover.
The bottom line: It will be very important for Metro and LAWA to select the alternative that allows for the easiest connection between light rail and the people mover while taking into consideration riders who are not airport bound.
The report also explains something wonky but very important: Metro, LAWA and two federal agencies — the Federal Aviation Administration and the Federal Transit Administration — have agreed on how further studies for the project will proceed.
The gist of it: Metro will study the light rail part of the project, LAWA will study the people mover part of the project and then the agencies will agree on a “locally preferred alternative.” A federal study of that alternative will follow — a study that is necessary in order to secure any needed federal funding.
Here is a good article on the issue in today’s Los Angeles Times.
There was also a news story published yesterday on the Los Angeles News Group’s Airspace blog about skepticism from airlines toward the project and its potential expense. I think it’s important to note that study of the project is going forward nonetheless and the project enjoys considerable political support both within and outside of the Metro Board of Directors — including from elected officials who ultimately oversee LAX.
The latest staff report and handout are below. Both are also available as part of the Metro Board’s Planning Committee agenda.