The 2028 Olympic Games will bring big infrastructure changes to LA
Becoming the host city for the Olympic and Paralympic Games is not only a culturally exciting event, but it also brings a range of benefits for the region. The host city can look forward to advantages such as an increase in tourist visitor numbers, an improvement in sporting facilities, and an excellent opportunity to gain investment in major capital projects.
Los Angeles is no exception as it prepares to host the 2028 Olympiad. Upgrades to and investment in major transportation and communications links will leave a lasting legacy for the area, spanning far beyond the few weeks of the event.
The 2028 Olympic Games will change the face of transportation in LA
The infrastructure challenges of hosting the games
Hosting the Olympic Games means being ready for a mass movement of people as visitors, workers, and the athletes themselves move around the area. One of the major transport planning goals is to optimize the transportation system for peak travel demands.
A commonly-used method for predicting the number of passenger journeys that may occur is the number of event tickets sold compared to the resident population. Using this metric, the last time that the United States hosted the games in Atlanta in 1996, it was estimated that the transportation system had to be prepared for quadruple the number of journeys as compared to normal times.
The increase in the number of passenger journeys in Los Angeles is likely to be similar. Transport planners are therefore facing a significant challenge: how to build upon existing infrastructure, and gain investment in new infrastructure to accommodate this increase in traveler numbers.
They will also be considering the challenge of the ‘last mile.’ This reflects the difficulty in moving travelers the last (or first) mile of their journey. This last mile is often the most complicated to deliver efficiently, as the requirement is often to move a single individual rather than a group, thus making the per capita transport cost much higher.
How Los Angeles will meet these challenges
Twenty-Eight by ‘28 Initiative
The LA Metro transit network will be a critical part of the Olympic transportation solution, and Metro has drawn up a list of 28 projects for potential completion before the 2028 games. These span projects such as expansions on existing lines, junction improvements, new stations to serve an expanded list of destinations, and new line construction.
Some of these projects were already slated for completion before the Olympics, but some will need to be accelerated to hit the deadline. The I-405 South Bay Curve Improvement project, for example, was initially planned for completion in 2047 but is being brought forward as part of the Initiative. The success of these accelerated projects rests on the ability of the LA metropolitan area to advocate for extra resources to enable completion.
The LA Metro’s Twenty-Eight by ‘28 Initiative will accelerate the completion of multiple projects
Putting sustainability at the heart of the transit system
One of the key approaches for Los Angeles in preparing for the 2028 games is to make the most of existing infrastructure, putting sustainability at the center of the plan. Many of the infrastructure projects aim to improve links with existing communities, thus addressing the needs of residents and providing benefits long after the games have been and gone.
It will be essential, therefore, to ensure that these communities are involved in the planning process, acting as key stakeholders. The outreach strategy should encompass all communities, including the most vulnerable ones, to make sure that the anticipated benefits of the enhanced transport system are felt equitably across the metropolitan area.
Delivering major schemes across the wider California area
The transport challenge of the Olympics is broader than just moving people around Los Angeles itself. Sporting venues will be located across California, and so the transportation solution has to match this footprint. In 1984, for example, some venues were up to 100 miles apart.
SCORE, for example, is a $10 billion capital improvement program which will upgrade Southern California’s Metrolink system in time for the games. At the same time, LAX airport will be expanded and renovated to accommodate the increased visitor numbers.
The 2028 Olympics represents exciting infrastructure opportunities for Los Angeles
The transport challenges of hosting the Olympic Games also represent a set of exciting opportunities for Los Angeles. With initiatives like Twenty-Eight for ‘28 seeking to secure funding for project acceleration, the result is likely to be an enhanced transport system for the metropolitan area that will benefit residents long after the Games have ended.
With a committed focus on sustainability and an innovative approach to delivery, the 2028 Games should leave LA a better-connected and better-functioning city.