Agencies consider plans to reduce car congestion at Ontario airport – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

The following article appeared in the San Gabriel Valley Tribune on January 7, 2014.

Agencies consider plans to reduce car congestion at Ontario airport – San Gabriel Valley Tribune

By Liset Marquez

January 7, 2014

ONTARIO >> Despite lackluster air traffic at LA/Ontario International Airport, officials are looking at ways to reduce car congestion in the future.

Transportation officials project ONT will be bustling by 2030 with 30 million annual passengers, which worries city officials of the potential toll it can take on local roadways.

Planning officials are studying ways to connect different modes of transportation directly to ONT, which could make it the first airport in Southern California to do so.

The board of directors of the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority has asked staff to initiate an alternative analysis that would study how to connect its riders to the airport, said Lisa Levy Buch, spokeswoman for the construction authority.

“Our board is very committed to the Ontario extension as a viable option to look into,” she said.

The Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension, overseen by the Metro Gold Line Foothill Extension Construction Authority, is a $1.7 billion, 24-mile extension of the Metro Gold Line light rail system.

The eight-mile extension from Montclair to ONT is not a formal part of the project, but the construction authority in 2008 conducted an initial study of extending the line. That study found it was feasible to go to the airport.

The alternative analysis would look at the different forms of transportation the authority may use to transport Gold Line riders to ONT, including identifying routes, Buch said.

Authority staff must also identify the funding for the study, which is estimated to cost $1.5 million, Buch said.

In the past, the authority has attempted to pool funding resources from other agencies in San Bernardino County and will continue to seek any opportunities.

Funding for the analysis is expected to be discussed at an upcoming board of directors meeting, she said.

Ontario Councilman Alan Wapner said the city has been focused on solving what is often referred to as the “last mile,” a term used to describe the issue of connecting people from a transportation hub to their final destination.

“Ontario has always been supportive of growing the airport but not at the costs of having impacts that LAX has,” he said. “What the community says is we don’t care how big you grow the airport, as long as you mitigate the impacts because we don’t want 30 million people coming here with individual cars. If we are going to go to 30 million, then we want them coming here by rail or transit or some other way. We need to start establishing that now.”

Last year, the San Bernardino Associated Governments awarded a nearly $600,000 contract to study ways to fix that missing link and bring rail access to the terminals.

The Inland Empire study would take into consideration several factors such as the mode of transportation to use — bus, shuttle or train — the possible ridership it would generate as well as costs associated.

“It will look at ways to provide reliable and cost-effective ways to connect to Ontario with a regional system,” said Jane Dreher, spokeswoman for SanBAG.

The association, which hired HDR Engineering Inc. expects the study will take two years to complete.

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