Trains could someday reach the edge of the central terminal area at Los Angeles International Airport under a scenario floated for the first time Monday, though some involved in the project say the idea might not be feasible.

In a report to the Board of Airport Commissioners, Lisa Trifiletti, LAX's director of special projects for environmental land-use planning, signaled the airport would be willing to give Metro land to build an underground station on the east side of the terminal area, just west of Sepulveda Boulevard.

It was the first time airport officials had publicly said it might be possible to bring Metro trains directly to the central terminal area. Two other options have focused on building above-ground Metro stations close to, but not on, airport terminals. From both of the other locations - each several blocks from the terminal area - passengers would then board some form of people mover to reach gates.

Whatever station Metro builds will connect the Green Line and the forthcoming Metro Crenshaw/LAX Transit Corridor Project to the airport. Officials have said it is possible they can complete the project as soon as 2020, with construction starting in about 2015.

Paul Taylor, deputy chief executive of the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, said Metro executives will study the direct-to-the airport proposal, but he cautioned it might not be cost-effective to build an underground station near the terminals.

Taylor said it is usually more expensive to build underground stations.


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He also said an on-airport station is not necessarily any more convenient for travelers than one a couple of blocks way.

Most travelers arriving at an on-terminal underground station would still need to take a people mover to reach their gates.

"One of the drawbacks is the expectation that if you get to that station, you are at the airport," Taylor said. "You're sort of close enough to Terminal 1 and Terminal 7 that you could walk there. But without the people mover it's not that useful for other terminals."

County Supervisor Don Knabe, a member of the Metro board of directors and a proponent of fast-tracking any plan to connect rail with LAX, said it is a major step forward that the issue was even discussed at the airport commission meeting. But he said officials need to consider all three scenarios, including the two stations away from the central terminal.

"The good news is that they talked about it publicly," Knabe said. "Whether the option that they mentioned works out is to be determined. But the good news is that we're on the right track."

Airport officials say they will continue their discussions with Metro about which station is most feasible and best serves the airport's customers.

Los Angeles World Airports spokeswoman Nancy Castles said the offer of land to Metro shows that LAX officials believe a rail connection system is vital for passengers.

"Land here is very scarce," she said. "Our commitment to allocate the land for a Metro station on the airport shows that we are committed to improving the ground access at LAX for passengers."

brian.sumers@dailybreeze.com

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