Thursday, May 25, 2017

City settles lawsuits challenging modernization projects at Los Angeles International Airport

The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday agreed to settle lawsuits brought by Culver City and Inglewood that alleged the potential environmental impacts of modernization projects at Los Angeles International Airport were not properly evaluated.

Officials said the settlements smooth the way for construction of ground transportation improvements, including a people mover in the central terminal area, a transportation center, a consolidated car rental facility and upgraded roads. All are part of a $14-billion modernization of the nation’s second-busiest airport.

“We’ve reached an important milestone with neighboring cities that share our vision to improve the passenger, employee and neighborhood experience by transforming LAX into a modern and efficient gold-standard airport,” said Deborah Flint, chief executive of Los Angeles World Airports.

Under terms of the agreement, Culver City and Inglewood will participate in planning future development at LAX and implement transportation projects that will be paid for by Los Angeles World Airports.

The airport department will give Culver City $2.71 million and Inglewood $14.9 million to implement an “intelligent” transportation system, which involves sophisticated information and communication technologies to move people safely and efficiently.

Such methods include variable message signs, traffic signal control systems, cameras to monitor roads and online information about road conditions, traffic congestion and available parking.

Inglewood will receive another $10.6 million from the airport to develop what’s known as a transportation demand management system, or TDM, to reduce travel demand or redistribute it over time or across the transportation system.

Both cities agreed to dismiss appeals of an earlier court decision in favor of Los Angeles.

“This was something that has held everyone at bay for so long, and it’s thrilling that we are all going to be cooperating again to make LAX safe, secure and convenient,” said Denny Schneider, president of the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion, which also had sued LAX.

In May 2013, Culver City and Inglewood became part of a group of local governments and community organizations that sued Los Angeles World Airports over the latest round of terminal additions, transportation projects and airfield work.

The most controversial proposal was a $652-million plan to move the northernmost runway 260 feet closer to homes in Westchester and Playa del Rey to make room for a center taxiway.

The cases alleged that the planning for the projects violated the California Environmental Quality Act by understating the potential noise, air pollution and traffic effects in nearby cities and neighborhoods.

In August 2016, the city settled the lawsuit brought by the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion. The agreement shelved the proposed relocation of the northernmost runway and called for a community park on the airport’s north side as well as additional passenger gates in the central terminal area to replace those that must be accessed by shuttle buses.

The settlement also provided for safety improvements to the airport’s two northern runways, additional air pollution monitoring and an ongoing dialogue about airport projects among LAX, the alliance and the surrounding community.

(Dan Weikel and Emily Alpert Reyes - Los Angeles Times)

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