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Comprehending a Comprehensive “Green Line to LAX”


TRANSPO LA - In the left-brained world of science and engineering, a proper study looks at all possible and reasonable alternatives to reach a goal or to solve a problem.  Politics and emotion might bring down a study (or least make it no longer proper), but if it’s done by the facts in an objective manner, then the study becomes valid.

Of course, when it comes to getting the Green Line to LAX (or thereabouts), politics and emotion runs high, and opinions can easily morph into “facts” that have the ability to threaten any well-intentioned study.  

As stated in my last CityWatch article, the “Metro Green Line to LAX” Project was not and cannot legally have the Green Line go into the LAX Central Terminal Area (CTA) because that is the property of L.A. World Airports.

The job of getting rail commuters into the LAX CTA will be that of the future LAX Automated People Mover (or APM, which might be either a Busway or a monorail or any other technology), which presumably will connect airline commuters and workers from the CTA to the future Metro station at Century/Aviation, and the planning for that project really hasn’t started.

So what the heck is the “Metro Green Line to LAX” project, then?

Well, some of us care about Metro history, and some of us don’t, but the decades-old Measure A (the original transportation half-cent sales tax) specified that the Green Line was to go by LAX, connect with it indirectly via a LAX People Mover, and proceed up Lincoln Blvd. to Marina Del Rey.  Well, as anyone and everyone knows, THAT didn’t happen.

The recently-passed Measure R was much more consistent with the subsequent and scaled-down objective of Metro 15-20 years ago to bring the Green Line from Aviation/Imperial station northwards up the Harbor Subdivision Rail Right of Way (ROW) to a Century/Aviation station, and then turn west down Century Blvd. to a station at a Metro-owned lot at Century Blvd/Avion Dr/98th St. just west of the Sheraton Hotel on Century Blvd.  From there it was to proceed north to LAX Lot C and perhaps have a third station at Sepulveda/Lincoln.  

Studies would then be able to be performed to evaluate whether a Lincoln Blvd. rail line to Santa Monica, a Sepulveda Blvd. rail line to Culver City and the Westside and the San Fernando Valley, or both, or neither, could or should be built.

The late state Senator Jenny Oropeza held up the entire Measure R sales tax initiative unless $200 million were allotted for a Green Line to LAX Lot C was included in the language of that initiative, which the voters passed by a 2/3 majority in 2008.  It should be duly noted that the language does NOT say “Green Line to LAX”, but rather it says “Green to LAX Lot C”.

So in other words, the recently-passed Measure R states that the “mission” of this “Green Line to LAX” Project is to get it to serve the LAX region and poke its nose into the very southern tip of the Westside.

Therefore, while the Crenshaw Line allows the Green Line to extend from the southern to the northern side of LAX by sharing its tracks along the Harbor Subdivision Rail ROW to Century/Aviation, the Green Line project now starting is supposed to include a split (the technical jargon for this rail split is “wye”) from that ROW to access the Century Blvd. commercial district, the southern tip of Westchester, or both.

So where should this wye from the north-south Harbor Subdivision ROW occur to proceed west and north to the Westside?  There are at least four options, and all have pros and cons with respect to cost, engineering issues and political consensus:

1) The Green/Crenshaw wye occurs at Century Blvd, and the Green Line proceeds west on Century to a station at the Metro-owned lot at Century Blvd/Avion Dr/98th St., and then proceeds north perhaps to a second station at/near Sepulveda/Lincoln in Lot C.  This is consistent with historical Metro plans, which in the very “unofficial” diagram below it should be noted that the LAX APM would likely run along 98th St.  

The engineering problems at Century/Aviation are and the unlikelihood of a Metro light rail line that stops every few blocks on Century Blvd. to serve those hotels and businesses (something an APM would more easily and realistically do) might make this option a challenge for Metro.  Still, it needs to be studied in a proper EIR:

2) The Green/Crenshaw wye occurs at 98th St. and proceeds west to the Metro-owned lot for a station there before turning north to Lot C.   The LAX APM would run along either Century Blvd. or 96th St. that parallels 98th St. to the north.

3) The Green/Crenshaw wye occurs at 96th St. and proceeds west to a station at some new location, perhaps at 96th/Airport, before turning north to Lot C, and the LAX APM would run along 98th St. or Century Blvd.

4) The Green/Crenshaw wye occurs at Arbor Vitae and the Green Line bypasses the Century Blvd. commercial district altogether and proceeds directly to Lot C, and the LAX APM would run along 98th St. or Century Blvd.

Yet we don’t KNOW where a Lot C station should go to keep all future northerly Green Line extension options viable, and we don’t KNOW where the future LAX APM will be, or if it will actually make enough stops on/near Century Blvd. to please the hotels and businesses on that commercial corridor.

So with questions abounding—and opinions abounding—but answers in rather short supply, all that can really be done is to keep all ideas open for study.  Comprehending all of these little details and options is a chore for most of us, but it’s hardly difficult to comprehend the need to establish a fully comprehensive study for this long-overdue Metro Green Line to LAX Lot C project.

(Ken Alpern is a former Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Vice Chair of its MVCC Transportation/Infrastructure Committee. He is co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chairs the nonprofit Transit Coalition, and can be reached at [email protected]. He also co-chairs the grassroots Friends of the Green Line at www.fogl.us.   The views expressed in this article are solely those of Mr. Alpern.)

Tags: LAX, Green Line

Vol 9 Issue 84
Pub: Oct 21, 2011

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