Tag Archives: El Segundo

LAX Transit Part 2 – APMs and Ground Side Access

Via Curbed LA, LAWA has released a presentation on options for a proposed automated people mover (APM) and intermodal transportation facility (ITF). (Full report here.) Unfortunately, the results are a little disappointing. Slide 93 says that LAWA can accommodate Metro at any of four locations:

Metro-LAX-4loc-markup

None of these locations are good transfer points for a future Sepulveda Pass transit line, which is high on everyone’s wish list. And earlier in the presentation, on slide 40, LAWA says that the only alignment that would connect to the Crenshaw Line station at Aviation/Century (the 98th St alignment) has been discarded.

LAWA-98thDiscard

LAWA’s preferred APM option would cross the Crenshaw Line near Aviation and 96th. From a stop spacing perspective, it would be undesirable to construct another station on the Crenshaw Line about 0.3 miles from Aviation/Century. A stop at this location might also prove to be costly, as it is presumably very close to the interlockings that will connect the Crenshaw Line mainline tracks to the maintenance facility and yard that will be built at the southwest corner of the rail corridor and Arbor Vitae.

That would still be better than LAWA’s preferred Metro connection at an ITF located at Airport and 98th.

Metrooptions

This option is very poor from a rail planning perspective. It sends through-riding passengers almost a mile out of their way and requires four small radius 90˚ turns in the space of about 1.2 miles, ensuring low operating speeds. It unhelpfully dead-ends the Green Line in a place with little demand other than the airport itself. It’s unclear what the service patterns would be, and if the Crenshaw Line is to split between the two routes, it would result in long headways at both the LAX station and Aviation/Century. It would require extensive modifications to Crenshaw Line infrastructure that’s currently under construction. And the price tag for this option would be high.

In short, it seems that the central question of an efficient connection between LAX ground side transport and LA Metro has still not been resolved acceptably. Perhaps the most telling graphic is all the way back on slide 8:

LAWA-Metrointheether

An airport, an ITF, and a consolidated rent-a-car (ConRAC) facility. And Metro out there. . . somewhere.

In all the options presented by LAWA, the locations of the ITF and the ConRAC are fixed. However, these are just buildings and parking garages, and as far as engineering goes, it’s easier to move them to the transportation lines than to move the transportation lines to them. Options with different locations for the ITF and ConRAC ought to be on the table.

So here are a few options that might warrant more investigation.

APM on Century, ITF & ConRAC at Manchester Square

This option would put the ITF and the ConRAC at Manchester Square, the eerie almost-empty half-mile square bounded by La Cienega, Aviation, Century, and Arbor Vitae, which LAWA has been slowly acquiring over the years. The APM would run along the south side of Century, with stops at Sepulveda/Century (Sepulveda Pass Line), Airport/Century (hotels), Aviation/Century (Crenshaw Line), and ITF/ConRAC.

ManchesterSq

Note: if you’re wondering why I’m showing the Crenshaw Line, Green Line, and future Sepulveda Transit Line this way, see the intro post on Sepulveda/LAX Transit and Upzone El Segundo.

This is more or less similar to the old LAX master plan circa 2007, which invited lawsuits from many adjacent communities. That plan was canned by Antonio Villaraigosa, who said he just wanted to move on, when he became mayor.

That history means this option has baggage, but it shouldn’t eliminate it as a candidate. Good routes are still good routes, and lawsuits can be defeated (see Expo Line through Cheviot Hills and Purple Line through Beverly Hills).

As I understand it, much of the unpopularity of the old plan stemmed from reconstruction of the runways that would have moved runways closer to Westchester and El Segundo. That reconstruction was purported to be necessary to add center taxiways between the two runways in each airfield. To be honest, I don’t know runways and air operations at all, so I can’t comment on that. However, I don’t think there’s any reason that the APM, ITF, and ConRAC can’t be separated out as their own project. If this is the best option for ground side access, it should move forward independent of more contentious proposals.

Advantages of this option:

  • Proximity to the 405.
  • Straight alignment for APM.

Disadvantages of this option:

  • Puts Metro rail connections between ITF and Central Terminal Area (CTA), requiring Metro riders to drag their luggage onto the APM and check in at the terminal.

APM on 98th, ITF at Airport and 98th, ConRAC at Manchester Square

This option more or less follows LAWA’s discarded 98th St alignment, adding a stop at Sepulveda/Century to connect with a future Sepulveda Pass transit line. The ITF and ConRAC would be located where LAWA proposes to locate them.

Aviation-98th

Advantages of this option:

  • Proximity of the ConRAC to the 405.
  • Acceptable alignment for the APM.

Disadvantages of this option:

  • Puts Sepulveda Pass transit line between ITF and CTA, requiring riders to drag their luggage onto the APM and check in at the terminal.
  • Puts Crenshaw Line east of the ITF, which makes it of little use to riders on that line as well, because they will still have to take luggage from the train to the APM.
  • Poor access to the ITF from the 105 and the 405 results in challenging traffic engineering.
  • Complicated construction (per LAWA) on 98th St, but probably still easier than building a new Crenshaw Line station.

APM on Century, ITF at Sepulveda and Century, ConRAC and Auxiliary ITF at Manchester Square

This is my favorite option. The ITF would be split into two facilities, each offering full services. One branch would be located on the parking lot on the NW corner of Sepulveda and Century. The other would be located at Manchester Square, as close as possible to the NE corner of Aviation and Century. The facility at Aviation and Century would be configured to set back most of the garage from Century, allowing for more active uses (hotels, offices, etc) on the street. Direct ramps to and from the 405 and the 105 east would be provided to keep traffic off of neighborhood streets.

Sepulveda-Century2

Advantages of this option:

  • Allows direct access from both the Sepulveda Pass transit line and the Crenshaw Line to an ITF facility. Passengers would exit the train, check in and drop their bags, and then board the APM. No one would have to lug their bags onto the APM.
  • Allows private transportation services to use either of two ITF locations, whichever best suits their service arrangements.
  • This is the best option for both LAX-bound and through-riding passengers on Metro rail. The former get straight, quality routes, and the latter get a transfer that doesn’t require hauling bags all over creation.

Disadvantages of this option:

  • Precludes any possible development of “Terminal 0” at the parking lot on the NW corner of Sepulveda and Century.

If we really want to roll out the red carpet for LAX passengers, LAWA should partner with the airlines, rental car agencies, private transportation operators, and hotels to direct baggage to the right destination for arriving passengers too. So when you check in to fly to LAX, you could have your bags sent to the ITF at the Crenshaw Line, or to the hotel, or to the ITF at the Sepulveda Pass Line, or the ConRAC, etc. This is just the sort of logistics problem that computers are supposed to make solving a snap, right?

Aviation/Century Station and Freeway Ramp Improvements

The environmental document plans for Crenshaw Line showed an auxiliary track in the middle of the station platform. I’m not sure if that’s still part of the plan, but if so, that track could be removed to create more space for vertical circulation to the APM and ITF/ConRAC. In any case, some modifications to this station will likely be necessary.

Freeway ramps to and from the 405 should also be rebuilt to provide direct access to the ITF/ConRAC, so that traffic doesn’t use local streets. I may revisit this issue in a future post, so stay tuned 😉

Upzone El Segundo

About a month or so back, Market Urbanism posted some information on office rents and vacancies. I noted that El Segundo was renting for about the same price as downtown LA, and joked that we should upzone El Segundo.

Except, I wasn’t really joking. There’s about 2 square miles of El Segundo just begging to be upzoned. The area bounded by Imperial, Sepulveda, Rosecrans, and Aviation is ripe for upzoning. In my post on Sepulveda/LAX transit, I offered the following suggestion for the El Segundo area:

ElSegundo-original

An even better option would cross the Sepulveda Line and Crenshaw Line south of El Segundo Blvd, so that all three lines in the area would have a direct transfer to each other. Note that the graphic has been redrawn to be a little more geographically accurate:

ElSegundo-option1

That’s really got too many stations, but many of them already exist, and the stations that are located ideally for transfers (on the arterial grid) don’t necessarily provide good interior access to the area. Nevertheless, 10 stations in 2 square miles is just ridiculous. Maple can be eliminated, and Sepulveda/Mariposa and Sepulveda/El Segundo can be combined into one station at Sepulveda/Grand. El Segundo is the natural arterial for high quality bus service, but if you look at the city west of Sepulveda, there’s no problem routing a future high quality bus line on Grand west of Nash.

ElSegundo-option2

That reduces it to 8 stations. We could reduce it to 7 stations by rerouting the Sepulveda Line to run with the Crenshaw Line from Mariposa to Douglas. This would have some minor impact to speeds on the Sepulveda Line and worsen access to the city west of Sepulveda Blvd.

ElSegundo-option3

Personally I like option 2 the best, but the specifics can be ironed out later.

Three LRT lines, direct access to the 405 and the 105, a short ride to LAX, close to the beach… what else could you possibly want? And just look at all the space that could be built up.

ElSegundo-aerial

But best of all, that part of El Segundo has what is perhaps the most crucial feature of any upzoning plan: the people who will allegedly suffer have no say in local politics, because they happen to be in a different jurisdiction.

As an analogy, consider Marina del Rey, which is a small unincorporated enclave of LA County surrounded by the City of LA. If Marina del Rey were part of the City of LA, people in Venice would be complaining to the normally excellent Mike Bonin, and he’d be trying to stop the development. But all of the development there is approved by the county, and four of the five county supervisors, representing 8 million people, don’t have to worry about the local NIMBYs.

Back to El Segundo. The perceived impacts of upzoning the area bounded by Imperial, Sepulveda, Rosecrans, and Aviation would all be to the north, east, and south – in places outside El Segundo, populated by people who can’t vote for El Segundo city council members. So there you go, El Segundo City Council. Rezone the whole thing for mixed use, smaller setbacks, and higher FAR, and let’s go.