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Residents Weigh In on LAX Modernization Plan

Times Staff Writer

A planning session Saturday with residents and merchants near Los Angeles International Airport underscored many of the challenges officials face as they try to modernize the 77-year-old facility.

The purpose was to gauge community reaction to eight ideas for easing traffic congestion, such as double-decking Century Boulevard, providing direct access from the 405 and 105 freeways and adding two tunnels under the south runways to accommodate Sepulveda Boulevard traffic.

All have drawbacks and would involve major building projects, said Michael Doucette, chief of airport planning, addressing the 88 people who attended the four-hour session. It was the second such gathering since the proposals were unveiled Wednesday.

Several participants Saturday continued to press for their preferred solution -- moving much of the airport’s business to other city-owned facilities, especially in Palmdale, where officials have had trouble attracting airlines, and Ontario.

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“What you’re doing is adding eight more tentacles to the existing LAX octopus,” Playa del Rey resident Bob Krouch said.

But Gloria Davis, who works for a company that services first-class passenger lounges, said something must be done to modernize LAX. “Our passengers tell us this place is a dump,” she said.

The audience was divided into four working groups to discuss the eight airport access proposals and offer their opinions and concerns.

Many favored proposals to double-deck Century Boulevard or create direct airport access from the two freeways and bring the nearby Metro Rail Green Line directly into the airport. But they voiced strong opinions against any plan that would put more vehicles on the area’s streets.

“I don’t want to see us bringing more traffic to Lincoln” Boulevard, one man said.

Saying Los Angeles is one of the few major cities in the world where local and airport traffic use the same streets, Doucette added that the access proposals reflect several important goals.

Those include creating direct freeway access to the terminal curbs, reducing congestion on airport access roads, increasing the number of ways to enter and leave the central terminal area and establishing direct transit connections to the terminals.

Other goals are increasing security on terminal access roads, improving air quality by reducing traffic congestion, adding capacity on airport access roads and reducing congestion along the central terminal roadways.

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Cost estimates on the proposals haven’t been made but are expected to be “significant,” Doucette said.

Airport-area residents and the city’s airport agency, Los Angeles World Airports, developed the traffic proposals as part of a years-long effort to remake LAX.

The blueprint being developed would replace former Mayor James K. Hahn’s controversial $11-billion modernization proposal, which was shelved in exchange for area communities’ promise to drop federal and state legal challenges. The communities had argued that the Hahn plan would cause significant growth at an already overburdened facility.


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