LAX officials green light $4 billion plan to accommodate people mover, centralized car rental facility

Rendering Credit: Connecting LAX

From the Daily Breeze, by Nick Green, December 14, 2014:

A long-discussed $4 billion LAX modernization plan that includes an automated train to take passengers to and from a new off-site check-in facility and a centralized rental car location was approved Tuesday by the Board of Airport Commissioners.

The goal of what’s dubbed LAMP — the acronym stands for Landside Access Modernization Program — is to relieve the severe congestion that often plagues the loop road connecting Los Angeles International Airport terminals as well as surrounding streets.

The elevated train, officially called the LAX Automated People Mover, will eventually connect to a proposed Crenshaw Line light rail station at 96th Street and Aviation Boulevard. Metro approved the $200 million station in June.

“This is a big day for L.A.,” said Councilman Mike Bonin, in whose district the airport lies. “We are moving to make good on a long-standing promise to all Angelenos — we will connect LAX to a Metro station and we’ll make it easier, faster and more convenient to travel through our airport.

“With a new Automated People Mover, Metro station, consolidated rental car and intermodal transportation facilities, we’ll remove traffic and congestion from terminal areas and nearby neighborhoods, making LAX a world-class airport as well as a first-class neighbor.”

It’s hoped that construction will begin in 2017 and be completed by 2024.

The Consolidated Rent-A-Car center, or CONRAC, which will centralize the scattered locations around the airport where rental vehicles are currently picked up and dropped off, will sit in the Manchester Square neighborhood.

Manchester Square is bordered by Century Boulevard on the south, Aviation Boulevard on the west, Arbor Vitae Street on the north and La Cienega Boulevard on the east.

The airport has gradually bought up land in the once bustling neighborhood over the past 16 years, and on Thursday moved forward with purchase agreements for another 35 multifamily buildings there. LAX officials announced in February they would reassess the long-dormant idea of a single vehicle rental facility shared by multiple companies in the area, but that was supposed to take three years.

With a centralized rental location, the airport shuttles that contribute significantly to the traffic at LAX would go there to pick up and drop off passengers rather than come onto the airport property itself, officials noted.

What is currently LAX Parking Lot C at 96th Street and Sepulveda Boulevard will house the new passenger check-in facility, which is officially called the Intermodal Transportation Facility. It will include retail and dining amenities as well, officials said.

The plan also includes improvements to streets surrounding LAX.

“This program will transform how people travel to and from LAX in the future,” said board President Sean Burton.

The plan is an abbreviated version of a larger plan approved by the Federal Aviation Administration that was challenged by a series of since-settled lawsuits. That plan included a controversial proposal to move runways that was put on hold.

A spokeswoman with Bonin’s office said she believes this smaller version will not face legal challenges.

Mayor Eric Garcetti noted that LAMP is part of much larger upgrades to airport facilities and its age-worn terminals already underway that will eventually create an estimated 40,000 jobs and “dramatically upgrade the passenger experience at LAX.”

The plan includes three people mover stations in the Central Terminal Area that will connect to airline terminals with “a convenient pedestrian walkway system.”

LAMP still must undergo an environmental analysis that will begin in January.

But the improvements are being made years ahead of even the most optimistic timetables previously given.

“This is an important commitment to Los Angeles,” said Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports. “The board’s decision today means local residents and visitors to LAX won’t have to wait a generation to benefit from these improvements.”