Bill Boyarsky
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LAX and Metro, partners for jobs

lax-peoplemover-train.jpg class="mt-image-left" style="float: left; margin: 0 0px 0px 0;" />Los Angeles World Airports rendering.

They are two of the most influential people in Los Angeles, in charge of billions of dollars in construction that is reminiscent of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal when it comes to creation of blue-collar jobs and impact on the economy.

Deborah Flint and Phil Washington could probably walk through L.A. without being recognized by most people. But the women and men who crowded the upstairs banquet room at the Palm Restaurant downtown for a Current Affairs Forum luncheon Friday knew who they were, and the details of their agencies' projects.

Flint, the speaker, is executive director of the Los Angeles World Airports, which runs LAX. Washington is CEO of LA Metro, which runs Los Angeles county bus system and its fast-growing collection of commuter rail lines. He was at the head table, just to her right, and didn't speak.

The audience consisted of representatives of the architects, engineers, construction companies, law firms, lobbyists, public affairs consultants, campaign managers, organized labor and others who hope to profit from the wave of construction initiated by the airport and Metro. As I looked around the room, I thought this is the hidden power of L.A., the well-connected insiders who know where things happen--and often make them happen themselves.

I asked Flint about the impact of the construction by the airport and Metro, some of whose projects are linked. "It's an opportunity to create a new economy," she said. The area, she said, "is very fortunate to have that vision."

The airport is about to begin construction of a $4.9-billion people mover that will take people from a facility away from the airport and bring them to the terminal buildings. Rental car companies will be housed there, and passengers will be picked up at the facility. Most of the funds will come from airport revenues, and the rest from tax-exempt bonds issued by the consortium of construction, engineering and other companies that will operate the system.

Illustrating the importance of the LAX-Metro collaboration, the people mover will connect to a light rail line running from the Expo line at Crenshaw south to a station near the airport. The cost of that project is $1.776 billion. In addition, Metro is planning a light rail line extending from the San Fernando Valley, through the Santa Monica Mountains and possibly to LAX, a multi billion-dollar proposal.

And, at LAX, Flint said at the luncheon, plans are to have all terminals renovated by 2028 plus adding 12 gates to the Tom Bradley international terminal with a tunnel connecting them to the main Bradley building.

She called Metro's Washington "a partner" in the effort and aid with him LAX had "found ways to minimize disruption on all our projects."

Flint acknowledged complaints about service at LAX and said they are discussed weekly by airport staff meeting as a "Guest Experience Council."

Having spent the last few years writing about the collapse and now the slow rise of the blue-collar economy in the Los Angeles area, I thought her most important message was about jobs. And the most interesting news was the job producing collaboration between LAX and Metro.

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