Mon, Feb

Government Agencies Working Together On Transpo? YES!!!

GETTING THERE FROM HERE - Well, maybe there IS a Santa Claus, after all.  Or maybe the City and County of the Angels have found their own inner angels and are finally getting past the main reason we have no regional rapid transit system:  dueling egos and agendas.
It’s tempting to dwell on the lost opportunities and decades lost in establishing what every major city should have with respect to a vibrant economy, environment and quality of life here in Los Angeles, but it’s the holidays—so let’s follow the lead of transportation and planning officials who are moving forward with critical fixes and projects to the benefit of current and future commuters (and their employers!).
To start, we now know that LA World Airports (LAWA) and Metro are working together to derive a few options to connect our countywide MetroRail system to LAX.  Hopefully rejecting the past history of LAWA and Metro fighting each other over turf wars and fiscal responsibilities, the two agencies appear to be working together after almost 40 years of the public clamoring for a rail/airport connection.
Those of us who fought for the first decade of this century (Friends of the Green Line, or “foggles”, as we liked to call ourselves based on the abbreviation FoGL) remember learning of the dueling egos and plans of Metro and LA World Airports, and of the obstructive nature of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in preventing a reasonable and cost-effective airport/rail connection.
We should now rejoice that our dream (and that of all voters, taxpayers and commuters) might be coming true.
It’s not merely a political plug but a political reality that credit belongs to Mayor Villaraigosa, Councilmember Bill Rosendahl, and Rosendahl’s chief of staff Mike Bonin (also a CD11 Councilmember candidate to succeed Rosendahl) for all the work behind the scenes (and in public) to pass Measure R and almost pass Measure J.  
Furthermore, Bill Rosendahl’s Green Line Interagency Task Force was a good example of the planners and contractors associated with LAWA, Metro and the LADOT working together to derive a few good ideas.  It was both saddening to see how the creepy FAA would come in and smash so many plans, and it was equally saddening to see how discussion between Metro and LAWA could so easily devolve into bickering, but it appears that the last decade has been one of bridge-building.
Four ideas are being floated by voters to connect MetroRail to the central terminals of LAX, and they include potential transportation centers next to Parking Lot C and at Century/Aviation, as well as light rail stations west of Sepulveda in the Central Terminal Area.
I’ve been pretty hard on LAWA Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey about committing to such a link, but I suspect I’m not the only private citizen, public official or politician who has put pressure on her for that commitment—and to her credit she’s now committed some of these aforementioned sites for a future MetroRail/LAX connection.
(Now is the time to give credit and build bridges whenever possible, so if I was too hard on Ms. Lindsey and LAWA, who might have been scoping the grassroots and political atmosphere and doing due diligence for the past few years, then I’ll be the first to apologize.)
It’s now come down to combined planning (being done) and funding (not yet done).  
With the recent near-passage of Measure J, which would have helped pay for a MetroRail/LAX connection, it’s up to the voters, taxpayers and commuters to come up with $1-1.5 billion to pay for this connection…as well as to weigh in on which sort of connection we want to build and fund.
County Supervisors Knabe and Ridley-Thomas, who both opposed Measure J (and perhaps contributed to its failure after a very close near-approval of just less than two-thirds of the voters), are now calling for this rail/airport connection, and it’s hoped they can be part of the answer to fund and plan for this connection.
And on another note …
It’s apt to put a frog in one’s throat to learn that Metro, the Expo Line Construction Authority, and the Public Utilities Commission have all kept the Expo and Blue Lines safe while evaluating a fix for the poorly-constructed “frog” that connects the two light rail lines downtown east of USC.
They are working together to come up with a  proposal by the ZetaTech rail consulting firm to fix the problem, which requires a quick rebuild and an impact on the two rail line services for approximately a weekend, and which would go a long way to smoothing out the operations of both lines for the long term. 
We can only hope that the governmental and private powers that be will come up with a way to safely and effectively build the underground Downtown Light Rail Connector and create L.A. County’s “other subway” to connect the Blue, Expo, Eastside and Pasadena Gold Lines.
We can also only hope that Metro, the City of LA and our business community can also create a transit-friendly Westside Intermodal Transportation Center to connect the future Expo Line and what should be a north-south subway/rail line to link the Westside with the San Fernando Valley.
We can all take a page from those past and current transportation and planning officials, as well as from those political leaders who’ve directed those officials, to work together and make past rivalries moot and irrelevant.
After all, our dueling egos and plans should take a back seat when our traffic, mobility, environment and economy keep us all stuck in a gridlock that brings us all together for the wrong reasons…so why not work together for all the right reasons?
(Ken Alpern is a Westside Village Zone Director and Boardmember of the Mar Vista Community Council (MVCC), previously co-chaired its Planning and Outreach Committees, and currently is Co-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.) 
Vol 10 Issue 102
Pub: Dec 21, 2012