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‘A Train to the Planes!’ Los Angeles Breaks Ground on Airport Connector

June 22, 2021 by Kate Michael
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti during a recent appearance on Capitol Hill to discuss infrastructure. (Photo by Dan McCue)

WASHINGTON — On the site of what was once a rental car facility, Los Angeles made progress toward a car-reduced future on Monday. Mayor Eric Garcetti joined with other California policymakers and regional collaborators to break ground on the Airport Metro Connector Project, a long-awaited $900 million endeavor that will connect LA’s Metro system to the Los Angeles International Airport when complete in 2024. 

“Everyone traveling to or from LAX should have access to modern, reliable public transportation that gets them to their destination on time,” Garcetti said as planes flew overhead. “Angelinos have literally been waiting for this their entire lives… We’re finally here to bring a train to the planes!”

Approved in June 2014, the multi-modal transit gateway to LAX is intended to provide a reliable, fast and convenient connection for passengers traveling between the airport and the area’s regional bus and rail transit system. Serving one of the country’s largest and most populous counties as well as the nation’s second busiest airport, AMC is an effort to increase the use of public transit while decreasing air pollution and traffic congestion.

A rendering of Airport Metro Connector Station. (Courtesy: Grimshaw Architects)

“The Airport Metro Connector is a historic step toward reimagining how travelers experience our airport — a turning point that will be a source of jobs and economic growth, reduce congestion, and help our airport realize its potential as a world-class gateway to Los Angeles,” Garcetti said.

Upon anticipated completion in late 2024, AMC will be more than a typical light rail train station. The new 9.5 acre complex, located at Aviation Boulevard and 96th Street, will include platforms to access Metro Rail trains, a private vehicle drop-off and pick-up zone, retail space, and even public restrooms. It will also feature a 16-bay bus station that can charge electric vehicles, because, Garcetti said, “by 2030, all Metro buses will be electric and emissions free.” And it will house an expansive bike hub “making the Gateway accessible by as many modes of transportation as possible.” 

The rail station portion of the project will contain two platforms that will be accessed via escalators and elevators, ADA compliant swing door fare gates, and a full roof covering over the entire platform. The project has been designed to achieve a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Gold rating with sustainable features like solar panels, native rain gardens, and the aforementioned electric vehicle charging stations. 

In addition to convenience, Garcetti said the AMC was about “jobs, less traffic, cleaner air, and the capability of welcoming people from around the world or the country and welcoming Angelinos back home.” 

While LA politicians have often promoted the idea of achieving mass transit to the airport in the past, the budget and work was undoubtedly fast-tracked as Los Angeles prepares to host the 2028 Olympics. 

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