$2-billion face-lift for LAX airport set to begin

Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

The wait is over for some hard-fought improvements at aging Los Angeles International Airport, the facility's executive director said Thursday, adding that passengers should brace for additional construction almost immediately.

Work will begin early next year on up to $2 billion in projects that will provide a face-lift for outdated terminals at the 79-year-old facility. Run-down escalators will be replaced and bathrooms refurbished at Terminals 1, 3 and parts of 6. The airport hopes to finish a massive project to reconfigure its south runway complex next fall.

"There will be parts of your experience at LAX that you won't be totally happy with when we get into the height of the program," said Gina Marie Lindsey, who marked her six-month anniversary at L.A. World Airports, the city agency that runs LAX and three other airports. "But we will be doing it in as passenger-friendly a way as possible."

Addressing a Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum luncheon, Lindsey also said officials hoped to finally build a new terminal in the next decade.

City leaders have spent 20 years, four mayoral administrations and $150 million trying to come up with a politically palatable plan to modernize a facility whose 1960s-era airfield is ill-prepared to handle new planes and whose cramped terminals are often the butt of jokes. Other major construction projects are underway, the first since the upper-level roadway and the Tom Bradley International Terminal were completed just before the 1984 Olympics.

Several projects included in a controversial modernization plan approved by the Federal Aviation Administration are expected to be built.

But more controversial elements, such as a new terminal in a Westchester neighborhood near the 405 Freeway, will not move forward.

Instead of devising a new master plan to redo LAX, Lindsey said airport officials would draw up a capital improvements program and work through projects on the list.


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