Los Angeles County transportation officials Thursday approved a new train station intended to provide a rail connection to Los Angeles 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 further study of a proposed $200-million light-rail station a mile and a half east of LAX's central terminal area. The station would connect Metro's Crenshaw Line, now being built, to a proposed aerial, monorail-like system that will carry passengers to their terminals.
The added 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. Officials say the new station will serve as a link to a people-mover system expected to connect a consolidated car-rental facility, a planned ground transportation hub and the LAX terminal area.
The board, on a motion proposed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles Council member Mike Bonin and Los Angeles County Supervisors Don Knabe and Mark Ridley-Thomas, directed Metro staff to develop plans for the station.
Officials said the station will speed up airport access for travelers and should include check-in counters, flight information boards, vendors and currency exchange locations. The board also asked transit officials to review baggage check facilities at similar airport transportation centers in other cities and determine whether that service could be added.
"This is a historic day for our city, because we're finally on the way to bringing rail to LAX," said Garcetti, who is the vice-chair of the Metro board. "We'll be able to fix a historic mistake of our past."
The 96th Street station will need to go through design, environmental review and cost analysis before its construction can begin.
Los Angeles World Airports, the agency that governs LAX, expects to finalize and approve designs for the people-mover system in December. The service could start operating as early as 2022, according to agency projections.
Bryan Pennington, Metro's executive director of engineering and construction, said the added station shouldn't delay the opening of the Crenshaw Line, scheduled for 2019.
Metro staff have said the new station could cost $200 million. But additions such as ticketing and concessions would increase that cost. About $330 million in funding for project is included in Measure R, the half-cent transportation sales tax county voters approved five years ago.
The city's airport department will pay for the connecting people-mover loop into the terminal area, currently projected to cost about $1.5 billion.
Today, passengers and airport employees who take rail to the airport exit at the Metro Green Line's Aviation/LAX station south of the airport and transfer to shuttle buses.
"We've made more progress in the last 12 months than probably in the last 25 years," Metro CEO Art Leahy said during the board's downtown meeting.