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FLYAWAY—Flyaway Proposal Moves Beyond Traffic Concerns

New plans to alleviate traffic congestion on Saticoy Street could speed up a long-awaited expansion of the Flyaway facility near Van Nuys Airport. First proposed by City Councilwoman Laura Chick more than two years ago, facilities for the popular service that provides an inexpensive shuttle from the San Fernando Valley to Los Angeles International Airport could be expanded in the next year. Responding to one of the biggest concerns by area business owners and residents regarding Flyaway traffic, a design team is now finishing a conceptual design for an expanded Van Nuys Flyaway, said Todd Osborne, project manager for Daniel Mann Johnson and Mendenhall, which is overseeing the project. Most criticism of a revamped Flyaway project so far has involved traffic moving in and out of the parking lot east of the Van Nuys Airport. Traffic spilling onto Saticoy Street from the Flyaway site was a major issue, Osborne said. So was pedestrian safety since the current Flyaway configuration forces travelers to dodge traffic as they walk from their parked cars to the terminal. The new conceptual design has the terminal next to a new parking structure, “so basically, you just go straight into the terminal,” Osborne said. With the new plans, vehicles will not be able to exit the Flyaway onto Saticoy Street at all, instead entering and exiting off Woodley Avenue. Buses headed for LAX will only be able to go west onto Woodley. “Saticoy Street was really a sensitive issue. Getting the traffic off that was really a primary concern of the project,” Osborne said. “There are no cars or buses really going near the residential area or the elementary school on Saticoy Street.” That’s just fine with Josephine Rowley, owner of Beeps, a hamburger and hot dog stand at Woodley and Sherman Way. “The more traffic, the better,” said Rowley, whose stand has been in the same spot for 17 years. “More traffic will be great. People who want a hamburger or hot dog can grab one on the way to their flight.” Such considerations are part of the redesign. “We went back to the drawing board and basically came up with a totally new concept which really addressed a lot of the concerns we were having as a design team, as well as the concerns of the community,” Osborne said. Little business concern Other Woodley Avenue businesses, such as All Star Auto Glass and Bill Thomas and Associates located a few blocks from the Flyaway, are not that concerned with traffic being re-directed onto Woodley. Bill Thomas, for instance, is a small company with little foot traffic and All Star Auto does much of its business in the field. The only time Flyaway traffic is somewhat of a problem for people at Bill Thomas is when employees are coming and going from work, said Sevag Mekari, who oversees business development at the firm. “We have a small company, so (Flyaway) traffic only bothers us on the way home or on the way to work,” Mekari said. This new plan will be considered at a Board of Airport Commissioners meeting on Nov. 14 in Van Nuys. Ongoing discussions about the project include increased parking, building a new terminal with significant user amenities, and creating landmark architecture representing the San Fernando Valley. Chick initiated the improvement project with a City Council motion in August of 1998, requesting that Los Angeles World Airports improve the Flyaway. As a result, LAWA hired an independent consultant to conduct a study that examined various ways to improve and expand services. That report, released last year, recommended the addition of 500 to 700 new public parking spaces, renovation and expansion of the existing Flyaway building, construction of a new Flyaway building with additional ticket windows, ATMs and coffee kiosks. Ground-breaking for the project is expected by the spring or fall of 2001, officials said, with completion slated before the 2002 holiday season. Jim Stewart, vice chair of the citizens advisory council, said the expansion plans could cost anywhere from $2 million to $15 million. “These plans are exciting. We’re very committed to seeing it happen,” said Bruce Ackerman, president and CEO of the Economic Alliance of the San Fernando Valley, which continues to work with the Los Angeles World Airports and the Van Nuys Advisory Council on plans for redevelopment of the facility. The Economic Alliance and other groups have been talking about making the changes for the past five years, Ackerman said, mostly prompted by the Flyaway’s success. “It’s maxed out, it can’t handle any more capacity,” Ackerman said. “There are times when you can’t get in there and find parking. It’s been incredibly successful.”

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