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Proposed $1b rail line would go to LAX

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  • 10/23 Los Angeles Times
    Published Thursday, October 23, 2006, by the Los Angeles Times Proposed rail line would go to LAX The $1-billion route along Crenshaw and Florence would
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1 9:19 AM
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      Published Thursday, October 23, 2006, by the Los Angeles Times

      Proposed rail line would go to LAX

      The $1-billion route along Crenshaw and Florence would compete for
      transit funds with other expensive projects.

      By Jean Guccione <jean.guccione@...>
      Times Staff Writer

      Los Angeles officials are drawing a new route aimed at finally
      closing perhaps the biggest gap in the region's mass transit
      system: A lack of a rail line flowing directly into Los Angeles
      International Airport.

      Planners envision a new light rail line that would run along
      Crenshaw Boulevard and Florence Avenue between Exposition Boulevard
      and the airport. Although still in the early planning stages,
      officials believe that the line could be opened by 2015 if they
      can secure the $1 billion needed to build it.

      The proposal is the latest in the long, star-crossed efforts of
      the Metropolitan Transportation Authority to get light rail to LAX.

      The Green Line, which runs along the 105 Freeway from Norwalk to
      El Segundo, was supposed to terminate at the airport. But budget
      problems prompted the MTA to scrap the LAX connection.

      As a result, getting to the airport by commuter rail isn't easy:
      Travelers must transfer, with luggage and, in some cases, small
      children, from the Metro Green Line station to a shuttle bus for
      the short ride into the terminal.

      Transit officials are not giving up on the Green Line extension.
      But they see many benefits in focusing on the Crenshaw line.

      "Obviously, Crenshaw is very heavily traveled. It meets all the
      criteria for a good line. It goes through commercial areas. It goes
      near schools," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite
      Burke, an MTA board member who for the last 12 years has worked to
      get the proposed line built.

      Crenshaw is one of the county's busiest busways, with an average of
      35,000 boardings a day, according to transit officials. The proposed
      rail line would record an estimated 43,400 daily boardings by 2025.

      The MTA is currently on a mass-transit building boom. It's now
      constructing an extension of the Gold Line into East Los Angeles
      and recently approved an extension of the Orange Line busway in the
      San Fernando Valley and construction of the Exposition Line from
      downtown to Culver City.

      The Crenshaw line and the LAX extension of the Green Line would have
      to compete for funding with the much-discussed -- and very expensive
      -- idea Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has championed of building a
      subway down Wilshire Boulevard from the Mid-Wilshire district to
      Santa Monica.

      "If the [state infrastructure] bond measure passes, Metro will have
      more discretionary money available for new projects," agency
      spokesman Marc Littman said.

      The Green Line was planned to end at the airport's long-term Parking
      Lot C, where passengers could board a small automated train called
      a people mover to the terminal. City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who
      represents the airport area, believes that it's time to proceed.

      "It's a no-brainer to me that we need light rail into LAX," he
      said. "That will take a tremendous stress off of our highways and
      also be better for the consumer."

      Rosendahl also envisions someday linking the extended Green Line to
      Santa Monica and the Westside's Exposition Line. At his request, the
      City Council recently dedicated $250,000 for an MTA study on the
      feasibility of doing that.

      County Supervisor Michael Antonovich, who sits on the MTA board,
      supports both projects.

      The Green Line should be extended in an effort to "undo historically
      bad choices by the MTA," his transportation deputy, Michael Cano,
      said. He blamed local officials for acting to protect parking
      revenues and shuttle bus operators.

      The Green Line extension also raised concerns with the Federal
      Aviation Administration about possible interference with aircraft
      because the train was supposed to cross near the ends of two
      runways. The proposed Crenshaw line, by contrast, would enter the
      airport to the north, far from any flight paths.

      Until a rail line is built, more than 1 million travelers a year are
      boarding FlyAway shuttles from downtown Los Angeles and Van Nuys to
      the Los Angeles airport.

      More than 70% of the more than 150,000 riders who have boarded at
      Union Station since March got there by bus, train, shuttle or taxi,
      demonstrating their commitment to mass transit when available, said
      Paul Haney, deputy executive director of airports and security for
      the city agency that operates LAX.

      "There is less congestion, less emissions, and the experience of
      using the airport will be much more pleasant for travelers as a
      result of it," he said, noting that automobile traffic is down
      26% in the terminal since Sept. 11, 2001. The number of airline
      travelers, by comparison, is down just 6% over the last five years.

      To further reduce car traffic, airport officials plan to open a
      total of eight FlyAway locations around the county by 2010.

      Shuttle service from Van Nuys Airport and MTA headquarters at One
      Gateway Boulevard, near Union Station in downtown Los Angeles, costs
      $3 each way. For an additional $5, domestic travelers can now check
      luggage curbside at FlyAway stations.
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