DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES – LA County transportation officials on Thursday approved a new train station designed to allow a rail connection with LA International Airport, capping decades of discussion and complaints over one of Southern California’s most infamous planning problems.
In a unanimous vote, the county’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority board of directors agreed to proceed with planning a $200-million light-rail station a mile and a half east of LAX’s central terminal area. The station would connect the north-south Crenshaw Line, now being built, and some trains from east-west Green Line to a proposed monorail-like system that would link travelers to a consolidated car-rental facility, a planned ground transportation hub and the heart of LAX.
The add station, at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard, would be less than a half-mile north of another planned Crenshaw Line stop at Century and Aviation boulevards.
Travelers, urban planners and politicians have long voiced their concerns for L.A.’s lack of a direct rail connection to the nation’s third-busiest airport – a service available in many large cities. Passengers and airport employees who take rail to the airport must exit at the Metro Green Line’s Aviation/LAX station south of the airport and transfer to shuttle buses. Officials say the new station will speed up airport access and could include check-in counters, flight information boards and currency exchange locations. The board also asked for a review of baggage check facilities at similar airport transportation hubs in other cities to determine whether that service could be added.
Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that operates LAX, expects to finalize and approve designs for the people-mover system in December. The route through the terminal area is still being finalized, officials said. Service into the airport could begin as early as 2022. The airport department is expected to pay the $1.5-billion cost of that portion of the project.