L.A. Breaks Ground on New Light Rail Line as Pols Debate Airport Connection

Tuesday was a day of celebration in South L.A. as officials broke ground on the 8.5-mile Crenshaw Line, the newest addition to the region's expanding transit network. But just two days later, politicians resumed bickering over how to connect to LAX.

The Crenshaw Line, which will become "the first new rail service in a generation to traverse transit-dependent South Los Angeles" when it opens in 2019, is expected to cost $2.06 billion, with $700 million from federal grants and loans. Bending the line's route to the west would complete a "decades-long effort to bring rail service directly to Los Angeles International Airport." But with an estimated cost of an additional $3 billion, "transportation officials placed on the back burner a proposal for a light-rail tunnel under the terminal area," reports Laura J. Nelson. At a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority board meeting held on Thursday, board members made it clear they will focus on making the connection to LAX via a "people-mover" or circulator train.

"Barring a significant change, L.A. would soon have two light-rail routes that come near LAX but do not deliver passengers to their terminals, a problem that has puzzled and frustrated many civic leaders and transit users," adds Nelson. But some experts believe the people-mover option has its benefits.

"'If Metro knows they won't have the money to build light rail into the terminal area, and these people-mover options are a close substitute,' that choice may provide the public the biggest benefit," said Juan Matute, associate director of the UCLA Institute of Transportation Studies.

Full Story: Metro shelves direct rail line to LAX


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