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Bridge demolition will close major thoroughfare into LAX to make way for new light rail line

By Gary Walker

The Century Bridge in Westchester will be demolished this weekend to make way for a new light rail station, prompting a nearly three-day intersection closure near LAX that people are already calling “the Century Crunch.”

The demolition work shutting down the intersection of Aviation and Century boulevards — one of the major traffic arteries in and out of the airport — begins at 5 p.m. Friday and is expected to wrap up at about 2 a.m. Monday.

“We’re advising motorists to steer clear of the construction zone and avoid getting caught in traffic during the 57-hour closure,” Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Authority Board Chair Diane DuBois said during a press conference this week.

Vehicles traveling westbound on Century toward the airport will be diverted northbound on La Cienega Boulevard to westbound Manchester Avenue to southbound Airport Boulevard and finally back to Century, Metro officials said. Traffic leaving the airport will travel the same route in reverse.

More than 200,000 people are expected to pass through the airport each of the next three days, so airport officials are already working to notify passengers about the detours.

“This is one of the busiest weekends of the travel season and we’re expecting a lot of displacement for vehicles with the detours that are going to be enacted. So we wanted to let our passengers, especially our international passengers, know what they can expect and get a little taste of the obstacles that they may face this weekend,” LAX spokeswoman Amanda Parsons said.

The pending aerial train station at Aviation and Century will be the penultimate stop along the incoming Crenshaw/LAX light rail line, stretching 8.5 miles north to south from Exposition and Crenshaw boulevards to a final stop at Aviation and 96th Street.

The Metro board approved the future station at Aviation and 96th last month in order to connect passenger trains directly to airport terminals via a people-mover system. LAX officials are expected to weigh approval of the people-mover in December.

The Aviation and Century station, meanwhile, will connect the Crenshaw/LAX line to the Green Line that currently runs east to Norwalk and west to El Segundo with a stop at Aviation and Imperial Highway, Metro Crenshaw/LAX line project manager Charles Beauvoir said.

“This will be a station that will serve a lot of the hotels and workers who work south of Century,” he said. “It could also be a place where transit-oriented developments can happen.”

The Century Bridge must be destroyed to make way for the new station and to ensure proper alignment of Crenshaw/LAX line tracks, according to Metro.

Airport officials view the pending construction of the Aviation/Century station as a transportation milestone, Parsons said.

“It shows the commitment that airport executives like [Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director] Gina Marie Lindsey and Mayor [Eric] Garcetti and our transportation staff have to making the airport and public transit a reality for Angelinos,” she said.

The coming weekend would also be a good time to avoid unnecessary car trips near the airport and explore alternative transportation options, Garcetti said in a statement.

“We avoided Carmageddon on the 405 because we planned ahead and Angelinos chose to use transit and avoid unnecessary trips, and we can do the same during ‘the Century Crunch,’” Garcetti said. “If you are traveling to LAX during this time, it’s the perfect time to discover the car-free options that are available, and you just might decide to use them in the future.”

gary@argonautnews.com

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