California State Assemblyman Ted Lieu has introduced a bill that would create a new government agency whose only purpose would be to extend the Metro Green Line rail service to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

Lieu, who represents the 53rd Assembly District, introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 889 in the state Legislature Thursday, February 22nd.

The bill, which is co-authored by State Senator Jenny Oropeza of Carson, would create a state Green Line Construction Authority with the sole purpose of connecting the Metro Green Line to LAX.

The Green Line currently has a station approximately one mile short of LAX at Aviation Boulevard and the Century Freeway (Interstate 105), where it turns south, terminating in Redondo Beach.

“It’s time to fix this embarrassment,” Lieu said. “With the passage of the infrastructure bonds [approved by voters in November], there’s plenty of money available, if MTA [Metropolitan Transportation Authority] will step up to the plate.”

Lieu and Oropeza on the state level have partnered on the local level with Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the LAX area in the 11th Council District, in furthering the Green Line. The three elected officials have recently joined with Congresswoman Jane Harman and Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe to form the Green Line Coalition, an organization focused on getting the rail service to the airport.

Coalition members are working on efforts to connect the Green Line to LAX through an approximately two-mile-long extension that would run from the current Aviation and I-105 stop to stations at Aviation and Century Boulevards and Lincoln and Sepulveda Boulevards in Westchester.

They say the extension to the airport would alleviate traffic congestion and reduce air pollution in the area, as well as provide a convenient alternative to private automobile use for travelers and employees at LAX.

Oropeza said the rail service connection to one of the country’s busiest airports is a “no-brainer.”

The Green Line Construction Authority that would be created under AB 889 would have its own executive board and would work on bringing together federal, state and local funding to construct the Green Line connection, said David Ford, a spokesman for Lieu.

“I’m thrilled to see something this important being involved with all levels of government,” said Ken Alpern, co-chair of the Friends of Green Line committee and member of the Mar Vista Community Council.

Alpern said Assembly Bill 889 would “strengthen the likelihood” of rail service connection to LAX because it creates an agency whose only mission is just that.

“We will have a government entity with the exclusive mission to build this line extending to LAX,” Alpern said. “This is something that’s very long overdue.”

The construction authority is not expected to be fully operational until early 2009, Ford said.

The rail extension will not only help alleviate traffic and reduce pollution in the area by providing alternative transportation but also improve access to the airport for passengers and employees, Alpern said.

“The best thing about it [a rail connection] is that there will never be a situation where LAX is an impediment to our regional transportation efforts,” he said.

Alpern and Green Line Coalition members such as Rosendahl also say that a Green Line connection would help lay the groundwork for other planned rail connections from Westside, South Bay and San Fernando Valley areas in the future.

“For too long, the Westside has suffered from severe traffic gridlock and insufficient public transportation,” Rosendahl said. “Extending the Green Line to LAX would be a huge step toward building a much-needed rail network on the Westside and freeing our streets and highways from traffic congestion.”

Lieu introduced the bill creating the Green Line Construction Authority the same week that Rosendahl introduced a motion to the City Council calling for a coordinated rail network on the Westside.

The Rosendahl motion allocates $200,000 in traffic amelioration fees paid on Westside development projects for a study of where and how to connect the proposed Purple Line subway to the sea (which would connect to the existing Red Line subway at Western Avenue and Wilshire Boulevard), the Exposition Light Rail line (from downtown Los Angeles to Culver City and perhaps eventually to the ocean) and the Green Line extension to LAX.

Rosendahl said the connection could occur in various forms, such as a north to south rail line or by merging the routes of two of the east to west lines.

The councilman’s motion specifically requested Los Angeles City Council to authorize and instruct the California Department of Transportation to add a comprehensive Westside rail corridor and connectivity analysis to the department’s West Los Angeles traffic study.

The proposal also requests the City Council to authorize the city Department of Transportation to apply for and accept grant funding from other agencies, such as the Southern California Association of Governments, the South Coast Air Quality Management District, California Department of Transportation and MTA to augment funding to prepare a comprehensive plan.

The plan includes environmental and technical studies for transportation improvements within the West Los Angeles traffic study area.

“The current state of our traffic gridlock requires a detailed and comprehensive analysis of our transportation infrastructure,” Rosendahl said. “I want to ensure that the Department of Transportation is well-equipped to provide such a study.”

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