ALPERN AT LARGE--Once upon a time, there was a burning desire to connect Metro Rail to LAX, and there was a burning desire to connect four non-connecting rail lines Downtown to each other.
And once upon a time, there was a burning desire to connect LAX to Downtown via a rail line.
Two out of three ain't bad, but the lack of a LAX-Downtown connection will likely annoy taxpayers and commuters as much as the lack of the aforementioned connections of rail to both LAX and to Downtown LA once did.
The approval of Metro for operational Alternative C-1, which establishes a Norwalk-Crenshaw/Expo rail line and a South Bay Green Line stub from Redondo Beach to Aviation/Century is what appears to be the proposed operational service of the Crenshaw and Green Lines (much to the chagrin of South Bay commuters, I imagine), and it's an interesting step forward.
But someday, and someday soon...there will be a growing recognition of a failure to connect LAX with a straight shot to Downtown via the Harbor Subdivision Rail Right of Way.
And someday, and someday soon...there will be a recollection of how the California High-Speed Rail prioritized NOT the Downtown Union Station Connection to LAX as a stub to connect LAX with other Southern California Airports and the High-Speed Rail, and abandoned the idea.
And someday, and someday soon...there will be a recollection of how the consideration of a Metrolink extension from the countywide commuter rail system to LAX via the Harbor Subdivision Rail Right of Way was similarly abandoned.
And someday, and someday soon...there will be a recollection of how all rail traffic from LAX to Downtown was either to be via the Green Line to the Blue Line, or the Crenshaw Line to the Expo Line, instead of a straight shot from LAX to Downtown.
And someday, and someday soon...there will be a recollection of how both the Expo and Blue Lines are at virtual peak capacity during rush hour, thereby thwarting the ability of many throughout the region to access LAX quickly and conveniently via rail.
And someday, and someday soon...there will be an understanding of how the Eastside, Downtown, Mid-City, South LA, Westside, and South Bay regions would be connected by a Union Station to LAX rail line along the Harbor Subdivision Rail Right of Way (which you and I all own as a publicly-held right of way).
And someday, and someday soon...there will be an awareness that the Downtown Connector will be at peak capacity just as quick as the Expo Line, thereby requiring a Second Downtown Connector, which more likely than not would be the aforementioned Harbor Subdivision Rail Right of Way that connects from Union Station to Southeast Downtown LA to the Blue Line to Inglewood to LAX and on to the South Bay.
And someday, and someday soon, there will be a sudden awareness that the economic vibrancy of all regions of Los Angeles (at least the City of Los Angeles and immediate thereabouts) will be held back by limited mobility and access from the south to the north, and the west to the east, and from all regions to Downtown, despite all of our rail projects.
And someday, and someday soon, there will be a growing horror and fury that a "Rail to River" project created a relatively unused Bikeway instead of a combined Rail/Bikeway effort we saw with the Expo Line.
And someday, and someday soon, those raising this issue will be called "bike-haters" even if they fought for bicycle lanes, routes, sharrows, etc.
And someday, and someday soon, there will be a lot of angry people who will raise the issue why we can't connect two critical points with a straight line.
So someday, and someday, there will be an effort to connect these two critical points from LAX to Downtown, and from the Eastside to the Westside, and from Downtown to the South Bay, governmental leaders will be screamed at to fix this glaring hole in our countywide Metro Rail system and connecting Metrolink system.
But not today.
(Kenneth S. Alpern, M.D. is a dermatologist who has served in clinics in Los Angeles, Orange, and Riverside Counties, and is a proud husband and father to two cherished children and a wonderful wife. He is also a Westside Village Zone Director and Board member 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 was co-chair of the CD11 Transportation Advisory Committee and chaired the nonprofit Transit Coalition and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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 Dr. Alpern.)