A connection between Metro Rail and Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) moved closer to reality on December 1, as the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (Metro) Board of Directors approved the final environmental study for the Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Transit Station project.

“Getting this report certified means we can now design the station and then build it,” said Metro Board Chair John Fasana in a recent news release.

The Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Transit Station will add a new station to the Crenshaw/LAX Line – which is now under construction - to provide an easy transfer to a future Automated People Mover (APM) that will connect to LAX passenger terminals.  The APM is being planned and will be built and operated by Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA).

The APM system will be fully automated and grade separated from pedestrians and other vehicles. It will be designed for passengers with luggage and allow for reliable access to the airport. Each station within the Central Terminal Area will connect to moving walkways to ensure passengers can get to their terminals quickly.

The Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Transit station will also feature three light rail platforms, a bus plaza for Metro and municipal buses, a pick-up/drop-off area for those coming by private vehicle, a bicycle hub, amenities for pedestrians and a Metro hub/terminal building that will provide the connection to the people mover.

Metro envisions the 96th Street Transit Station to be a new “gateway” to LAX for transit riders using the Metro Green and Crenshaw/LAX Lines.

The Crenshaw/LAX light rail project is being built by Walsh/Shea Corridor Constructors (WSCC). Even though the Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Transit station project is not actually part of the Crenshaw/LAX Line, WSCC is doing some work to make it easier to build the station later, says Metro.

With the environmental study complete, the 96th Street Transit Station project will move into the design and procurement phase.

“This is a shovel ready project, funded by Measure M that can now proceed toward the construction stage,” said Metro CEO Phillip A. Washington in a news release. “In fact, as part of their commitment, the contractors working on the Crenshaw/LAX line are well on their way to delivering accommodations for the future Airport Metro Connector 96th Street Transit Station.” 

The project is the first Measure M project to move forward, says Metro. Measure M, also known as the “Los Angeles County Traffic Improvement Plan,” is a half-cent sales tax ballot measure that L.A. County residents passed last month with a 69.82% approval. The measure will provide approximately $120 billion over 40 years for transportation projects

Measure M is scheduled to supply $347 million for the project in addition to $234 million from Measure R, the state and other sources. Under the M spending plan, the project is scheduled to break ground in fiscal year 2018-19 and be completed 2021-23. The Crenshaw/LAX Line is forecast to open in fall 2019. Los Angeles World Airports has said they are trying to complete the people mover by 2023, which would make it operational for the possibility of the Summer Olympics coming to Los Angeles in 2024.