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08.27.2014
Overdue Connection
Los Angeles' METRO approves first stage of rail link to LAX.
Courtesy METRO

At long last, it appears Los Angeles is getting a train to the airport. In late June the board of LA County’s transit agency, METRO, agreed to proceed with a $200 million light rail station, part of the new Crenshaw Line, connecting to a proposed people mover that will usher passengers to their terminals. The new station would be located about a mile and a half east of LAX’s central terminal area, and about a half mile north of the Crenshaw Line’s Aviation/Century Stop, at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard.

As AN previously reported, plans for a rail connection to the airport have been on the boards for some time, but the move is one of the final pieces in the LAX transit puzzle. Metro had also been investigating, among other options, a light rail line direct to LAX and people mover locations at other sites. The station—which at this point is only considered Metro’s “Locally Preferred Alternative,” or simply “Alternative A2”—will need to go through environmental review and other analysis before construction can begin. Furthermore, METRO is waiting for Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) to finalize its people mover plans before finalizing the 96th street location. That decision should come by December, said METRO spokesperson Rick Jager. LAWA is considering an intermodal transit center and a centralized car rental facility as hubs on the people mover route.

Map showing people mover connection from the Crenshaw Line’s new 96th Street stop to LAX.
 

No designer or architect has been chosen yet for the new station, added Jager. A preliminary sketch given to the METRO board depicts a multi-level, glass enclosed space with a direct connection to buses. But that image, said Jager, was “a penciled quick draw that was done the night before. It was to give the board a quick glimpse of what type of a station it could possibly be, but it was in no way shape or form the final draw.”

The current contractor for the Crenshaw Line is Walsh-Shea Corridor Constructors, which consists of Walsh, Shea, HNTB, Comstock, and ARUP. There is a chance that team could wind up designing the station. If work proceeds as planned the new station could be completed by 2022.

Meanwhile LAX, long derided as outdated, is about to undergo renovations to terminals 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, and 8, accompanying new roadside improvements and a major addition to Tom Bradley International Terminal by Fentress Architects.

Sam Lubell