LAX transformation more than halfway done, last phase underway


The Los Angeles International Airport’s long-term modernization is more than halfway finished, airport officials said in an update this week, with some projects completed in the past few years and others under construction and upcoming.

The second and final phase of the $15 billion capital improvement project recently began, said Justin Erbacci, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports during a Thursday, Jan. 27 virtual forum on its progress, and construction will go through 2030.

Since the project started in 2017, LAX has added a public parking structure, a $216 million airport police facility, redesigned Terminal 3, built Terminal 1.5 between Terminals 1 and 2, and created Terminal 4.5 and 5.5 entranceways that include escalators and elevators, and will connect to the upcoming automated train, among other improvements.

Erbacci said Thursday that the entire revamp is 70% complete.

One of the biggest pieces is Delta Airlines’ $2.3 billion expanded Terminal 3, Erbacci said, which opened last year, having not gotten an overall refresh since the 1960s. Slower traffic during the pandemic, he added, expedited construction and lowered the price.

The consolidated rent-a-car facility, a hub for all rental car companies at the airport, scheduled to open this year, will eliminate 3,200 rental car trips daily, Erbacci said. It’ll be the largest rental car complex globally, he added, able to store 18,000 vehicles.

Meanwhile, the $2 billion Automated People Mover, projected to start transporting folks in late 2024, “is going to transform the way people access the airport,” Erbacci said.

It will give people many choices about where to get picked up and dropped off, Erbacci said, with stations as far as a block away, thus avoiding the congestion inside the Central Terminal Area. They’ll begin testing its track this summer, he added, which could take up to 18 months.

Once it’s ready, the free train will make stops every two minutes at stations around the airport.

Revamps of Terminals 4, 5 and 6 are also underway — the first two set to finish in 2027 and the latter this year — Erbacci said, and in the past few weeks some of the last pieces of steel were used on the pedestrian bridge at the Tom Bradley Terminal.

Later, during the second phase, they’ll build a new Concourse 0 and Terminal 9, more and higher entrance and exit roads, auxiliary curbs in the Central Terminal Area, landscaping in the Central Terminal Area, a cargo complex, extend the West Gates at the Tom Bradley Terminal and enhance the airfield.

Extension of the West Gates, Erbacci said, will pilot a more efficient process of building the modular pieces of the terminal on the emptier, north side of the airfield and then transporting them to their final site.

They’re also piloting an LAX Fastlane system in two terminals, where passengers can reserve the time they plan to go through the TSA checkpoint before arriving at the airport, Erbacci said. Booking the 15-minute window ahead of time will allow people to go to the front of the security lines.

The goal, Erbacci said, is to get as much as possible done by the 2028 Olympics. Although the entire project won’t be complete, he added, it’ll be in a phase where construction is no longer noticeable and which can accommodate the traffic that comes with the international event.

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