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Hahn says not bringing light-rail to LAX terminals is short-sighted

Building a train to Los Angeles International Airport without considering options that will bring light-rail into the terminal area is "short-sighted and wrong," Rep. Janice Hahn (D-San Pedro) said Thursday.

"For Los Angeles to be a first-class city, we need a first-class airport," Hahn said in a prepared statement. "Part of having a first-class airport ... includes giving commuters the opportunity to travel to LAX directly inside its terminals."

Hahn's comments came a day after Los Angeles County transportation officials recommended against building light-rail stations in LAX's terminal area, saying that  tunneling under the nation's third-busiest airport would be too expensive and dangerous. 

At a Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority committee meeting Thursday, county Supervisors Mark Ridley-Thomas and Don Knabe introduced a motion that would mandate further study for two alternatives that would bring light-rail directly to the U-shaped terminal area.

"I don't think we ought to preclude options that give us the best possible outcome," Ridley-Thomas said. Preliminary studies indicate that ridership would be highest on a train to LAX if it stopped inside the terminal area. 

Metro's board of directors will consider both proposals next week.

Metro's executive director for countywide planning, Martha Welborne, told board members that tunneling would cost an estimated $3 billion — more than double the cost of other options being considered. She added that airport officials are concerned a rail line running underneath LAX's terminals and runways could pose a security threat.

Welborne's staff recommended further study for three alternatives. Each depends on the airport building a people mover, which could resemble a circulator train like the one at San Francisco International Airport.

One approach would bring the people mover out nearly two miles to meet the Crenshaw Line at Aviation and Century boulevards.

Another option would move the Crenshaw Line to the west, where it would link up near what is now Parking Lot C with the people mover and a proposed shuttle bus and a rental car hub.

Under the final option, the people mover would circle the terminals and connect with a light-rail station near LAX's lighted pillars.

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Twitter: @laura_nelson

laura.nelson@latimes.com

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