Transforming LAX

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Chief development officer, Bernardo Gogna, provides an update on Los Angeles International Airport’s $14.5 billion Capital Improvement Program and the recent opening of two key new facilities.

As Los Angeles gears up to welcome the world over the course of the next seven years as the host city for Super Bowl LVI and the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is focused on transforming into a world-class destination with state-of-the-art facilities.

Despite the global pandemic, LAX has made significant gains on its $14.5 billion Capital Improvement Program (CIP), progressing several monumental projects from planning to construction and grand openings.

From airfield improvements to terminal modernisations and the $5.5 Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP), LAX’s CIP is comprised of numerous critical infrastructure projects that will create a fully connected airport, both within the Central Terminal Area (CTA) and outside.

After breaking ground on four major projects in 2019, LAX will celebrate four grand openings in 2021. Two of those openings took place in May and June, as LAX delivered the first two elements of a re-imagined, world-class airport – the $1.73 billion West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal and the $477.5 billion new extension to Terminal 1.

West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal

The West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal is a 15-gate extension of Tom Bradley International Terminal providing a modern guest experience with cutting-edge technology, a beautifully designed interior featuring extensive use of natural light, and a state-of-the-art baggage handling system with early bag storage.

The facility, which services both international and domestic flights, offers numerous comfortable seating options with thousands of places to plug in while accessing next-generation wireless services.

The interior design draws upon a neighbourhood concept with the centre of the building considered the downtown area due to the high ceilings and elevator towers. Colourful mosaic tiles pay homage to the mid-century modern design of LAX and start the transition to other neighbourhoods throughout the facility, ranging from the desert to the ocean.

Additional passenger amenities include concessions, retail outlets and 30 restrooms, along with automated boarding gates, children’s play areas, nursing rooms, a quiet room and a service-animal relief area.

At the recent unveiling of the new facilities, LAWA CEO, Justin Erbacci, noted that mega-projects such as the West Gates would help redefine the LAX experience for travellers.

 

Terminal 1 extension

The extension of Terminal 1 provides increased passenger processing with an expanded shared-use ticketing lobby, security screening areas and baggage claim hall for Southwest, Allegiant, Frontier, Sun Country and Viva Aerobus airlines.

Designed to achieve LEED Silver status for its sustainability features, the extension received a Civic Award by the US Green Building Council of Los Angeles, which recognises exceptional efforts in sustainable buildings within city or county governments.

The building’s exterior façade features a mid-century modern design that aligns with the look and feel of the entire LAX Central Terminal Area. A bus depot to support operations at the West Gates at Tom Bradley International Terminal is located on the ramp level.

The facility also features a Terminal Vertical Core, which will provide access to the future pedestrian bridge that will connect to the Automated People Mover’s Center Central Terminal Area station in 2023.

Later this year, the facility will also provide connection between Terminals 1 and 2 in the post-security area.

Landside Access Modernization Program

The Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP) is the jewel of the Capital Improvement Program and at $5.5 billion is one of the largest infrastructure investments in Los Angeles’ history.

With a completion date of 2023, the centrepiece of the LAMP is the Automated People Mover (APM) train system, which will connect travellers to new off-site parking options, a Consolidated Rent-A-Car (ConRAC) facility and the regional transportation system.

The LAMP has been in the midst of heavy construction for the better part of a year and significant progress has been made on this monumental umbrella of projects.

This summer, the first component will be completed and opened to the public as the Intermodal Transportation Facility-West (ITF-West), an approximately 4,300 stall parking structure, will debut in August. Featuring both short and long-term parking options and the latest in smart parking technology, the facility will offer an economy option for those parking at the airport.

An interim shuttle bus operation will transport travellers to and from the LAX CTA until the APM is online in 2023.

The ConRAC facility will become the largest rental car facility in the world once open, capable of holding 18,000 rental cars. Included in the approximately 6.3-million-square-foot facility is a Quick Turn Around building, which will provide light maintenance such as fuelling, washing and oil changes for the rental car vehicle fleets.

The project will top off in July, pouring the last of 267,000 cubic yards of concrete, followed by tenant move-in in 2022. This facility will allow all rental car shuttles to be removed from the LAX CTA as travellers will take the APM to and from the ConRAC.

This will result in the removal of 3,200 daily shuttle trips to and from the CTA and on the city streets (pre-pandemic).

The 2.25-mile APM train system, which will have six stations in total – three inside the CTA and three outside – will revolutionise how travellers access LAX. The train guideway is nearing the 50% completion mark as all concrete guideway support columns have been placed.

Station construction has commenced at the ITF-West station, along with the East CTA station, while segmental construction to connect the two sides of the guideway over the main thoroughfare into LAX – Century Boulevard – will take place this summer.

Ongoing modernisations and Terminal Vertical Core construction

LAX found more efficient ways to build a better airport during the global pandemic. Early on, Terminal 3 was closed to the public, allowing it to be demolished without any impact to travellers.

With this closure, the $1.86 billion project, which will include a new head house for Delta Air Lines and the eventual connection of Terminal 3 to Tom Bradley International Terminal, had its project timeline accelerated by 18 months, and is now targeted to complete in 2023 as opposed to 2024.

Terminal Vertical Core construction at Tom Bradley International, between Terminals 4 and 5 and between Terminals 5 and 6 is ongoing, as each of these cores eventually will connect to pedestrian bridges that provide access to the Automated People Mover stations.

The first elevated pedestrian bridge was installed in June, with remaining bridges to be placed over the next year.

In just a few years, passengers will be able to access any terminal without going through security, which is currently only available in the south terminals, as connectors will be built between Terminals 1, 2, 3 and Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Future projects

While currently under the federal and California environmental review processes, the Airfield and Terminal Modernization Project (ATMP) would include a Concourse 0 and Terminal 9, along with airfield improvements and an elevated roadway system that will separate airport traffic from local traffic.

No definitive timeline is in place, but the goal would be to complete the ATMP prior to the 2028 Olympic Games.