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New agreement could clear way for LAX connection to Metro

by AirTalk®

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A jet comes in for landing at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) in Los Angeles, California. David McNew/Getty Images

A formal agreement announced earlier this week could finally allow LAX to connect to L.A. Metro, and free up funds for other projects that have been stalled in litigation for years.

The proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion (ARSAC), a community group against capacity expansion at LAX, would free up funds for projects that have been stalled in litigation for years.

The agreement would allow LAWA to build a People Mover to connect the airport to the forthcoming Crenshaw/LAX Metro light rail line. A new rental car center, two transport facilities, and roads to access the new infrastructure are also included in the plan.

Councilmember Mike Bonin represents the 11th district, which includes Pacific Palisades, Venice, West Los Angeles, and Brentwood. He helped announce the agreement Wednesday, and says that it allows the airport to make meaningful improvements without ignoring its neighbors.

“It removes all the roadblocks to everything we’ve wanted to do at that airport for a long time, and that’s hugely important to Los Angeles,” Bonin said.

“What we discovered during these negotiations is that essentially there was nothing the airport really wanted and needed and could do over the next fifteen years that the neighbors found objectionable. There’s nothing that the neighbors really didn’t want to see happen that the airport was planning or hoping to do.”

ARSAC will agree to not take legal action to delay these projects, which together would cost $5.5 billion.

Denny Schneider, who is the president of ARSAC, said that this sort of cooperation between LAWA and the communities surrounding LAX is unprecedented.

“This is the first time in forty years that the community has been on the same wavelength as the airport, and we are thrilled,” Schneider said. “It makes this airport an airport we can all be proud of. It’s going to be safe, secure, and convenient for everyone.”

A proposed shift of LAX’s northernmost runway toward the communities of Westchester and Playa del Rey has been scrapped. ARSAC sued in 2013 to block that project. Instead, airport officials would have three years to make several safety upgrades to the runway.

Bonin said safety and speed are top priorities for those backing the agreement.

“What this does is allow us to do airfield improvements right now...We get safety more quickly, more efficiently, and less costly -- more bang for our buck. This is a really good plan to get safety there right now.”

Still, Schneider warns that this agreement will not fix all of Southern California’s airport troubles.

“[LAX] is going to grow,” he said. “It’s important to this community and the whole region. But even more important is that we need a whole network of airports around Southern California.”

Los Angeles' City Council will review the MOU at a meeting next Wednesday.

These interviews have been edited for clarity.

Guests:

Mike Bonin, Los Angeles City Councilman representing Council District 11, which includes Venice, West Los Angeles, Brentwood, and Pacific Palisades

Denny Schneider, member of the Westchester Neighborhood Association and president of Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion (ARSAC); ARSAC and the City of Los Angeles reached an agreement to halt lawsuits over LAX’s modernization

With contributions from Andrew Fialkowski

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