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Old March 10th, 2007, 04:41 AM   #1
saiholmes
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LOS ANGELES AREA AIRPORTS

Encounter at LAX closed by falling arches
By Jennifer Oldham, Times Staff Writer
March 9, 2007



Officials shuttered the Encounter Restaurant in the iconic Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday after workers discovered that space-age arches above the eatery are unstable.

Inspectors uncovered the problem after a 1,000-pound piece of white stucco fell off the underside of one of the upper arches last month, smashed into the facility's roof and broke into dozens of pieces. No one was injured. Officials said it took days to diagnose the problem because they had to find a "cherry picker" crane that would reach 90 feet above the ground.

Although part of the lower portions of the four arches were retrofitted in 1999, the upper portions above the restaurant haven't been modified since the arches were erected in the late 1950s, officials said. The steel-and-stucco parabolas don't provide structural support for the glass-encased restaurant — which offers panoramic views of the airport below.

Officials said retrofitting the upper arches is expected to take months. The restaurant's closing and the need to surround the landmark Theme Building with scaffolding are a blow to city officials, who are eagerly awaiting worldwide media attention for the arrival March 19 of the massive Airbus A380 on its first U.S. test flight. The Theme Building — along with the Hollywood sign — has long been considered one of the city's signature sites.

The restaurant, which struggled to recover from the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, will be closed for at least three months.

City leaders Thursday found parallels between the crumbling icon and aging LAX — which officials have spent $150 million and more than a decade trying to modernize.

"It certainly is a symbol," said Alan Rothenberg, president of the city's Airport Commission. "Unfortunately, we have an old facility…. There's lots of deferred maintenance."

Late Wednesday, engineers suspended high above the restaurant discovered several apparently loose panels in the arches — leading officials to shut down the restaurant. After the panel fell last month, workers built a covered walkway near the building for restaurant patrons and employees to use to reach a commissary, deli and offices under the eatery.

"Over the years — this structure was completed in 1961 — water has gotten into the stucco" and caused it to corrode, said Dave Shuter, a deputy executive director at the city's airport agency.

Engineers said they must remove the stucco from the upper arches and inspect the steel beneath it for damage. If the beams need to be replaced, the new ones would have to be fabricated. Airport officials also say asbestos and lead paint may have been used in the arches, and getting rid of those materials could slow the retrofit.

According to the 2005 book "A Symbol of Los Angeles: The History of the Theme Building at Los Angeles International Airport", the structure was erected as part of a modernization plan for the airport in the late 1950s to "incorporate a dramatic iconic focus at the center of the new jet-age terminal that would be long remembered as a symbol of Los Angeles."

The $2.2-million futuristic building was designated a historic-cultural monument by the City Council and the Cultural Heritage Commission in 1992. Any reconstruction work must be approved by the commission.

The restaurant, created to resemble a flying saucer, is supported by a concrete shaft, which officials said is structurally sound. An observation deck atop the eatery has been closed for security reasons since 9/11.
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Old March 10th, 2007, 06:50 AM   #2
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im glad there not gona rip it down. but damn, a 1,ooo lb chunck of stucco. what is that, like half the arch?
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Old March 10th, 2007, 08:39 AM   #3
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Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper just to knock it down and make a replica. Since the Airport will be modernized to perfection in the coming months. They should also have a Green Line stop inside the new structure, how cool would that be?
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Old March 10th, 2007, 09:44 AM   #4
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knock it DOWN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! what?? why would you wnat it to be knocked down? it would take longer to rebuild. and they said it would only be closed for six months
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Old March 10th, 2007, 09:47 AM   #5
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I understand but the damn thing is crumbling as we speak. So the best next thing is to rebuild for 50 more years.
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Old March 10th, 2007, 10:52 PM   #6
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It looks pretty haggard. But so does all of LAX (less the glowing lolipops).

Hopefully there will be some major plans to spruce it up.
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Old March 11th, 2007, 10:17 AM   #7
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L.a Airport/Palmdale airport?

Hey fellas. Have you guys heard any news of the tunnel from La Canada to Palmdale? It could potentially link Palmdale regional airport and relieve some traffic at LAX. It would only be 20 min (22 miles)from Pasadena instead of the 1 hour 55 mile drive it is now. Not to mention that that airport is owned by Los Angeles World Airports and has plenty of room to expand. It's surrounded by desert!! The land is also cheap there and would open up another huge valley of real-state/land/development just 20 min. from Pasadena!!

This tunnel would follow some of the existing Angeles forest highway and have some tunnel parts. I drive that road everyday from Palmdale to Pasadena to work. It would also take allot of drivers off the fwy, especially the 5 Fwy and the 405.

By the way there are some amazing views from up there as you come down into the L.A basin. It's amazing. Especially at night. You can see D.t.L.A in the distance, and on clear days the ocean.

Tunnel Cost:
3-6 billion dollars!! Toll $8-10 one way. Hell I'D PAY IT.
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Old March 11th, 2007, 10:23 AM   #8
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^ Never heard of any proposed Tunnel to Palmdale/Lancaster. As far as the tunnel, I don't think is possible since it's a pretty long distance from La Canada To P/L. Who's going to pay the bill for such a massive underground dig w/ Light Rail. Not in this century but I can be wrong...
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Old March 11th, 2007, 11:00 AM   #9
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it will never happen. the cost is too much, the traffic impacts are severe, the enviormental damage, and the possibility of more sprawl in the desert is enough reason not to do it. we dont want to promote distant exurbs and sprawl.
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Old March 11th, 2007, 06:40 PM   #10
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build a tunnel under BH to the valley!!!!
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Old March 11th, 2007, 07:15 PM   #11
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What they really need to focus is to make an extension of the green line into LAX. Then possibly extend to the West Valley running parallel to the 405. That's makes a whole lot more sense as well it would service LA city residents from point a-b.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 09:10 PM   #12
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The sky's no longer the limit at LAX



To make the airport work, planners have to focus on smaller, effective projects.
By Steven P. Erie and Scott A. MacKenzie, STEVEN P. ERIE is a professor of political science at UC San Diego. SCOTT A. MACKENZIE is a doctoral candidate at the university. They are completing "Troubled Paradise: Fiscal Crisis and Political Tu
March 11, 2007


LOS ANGELES, the city that huge public works projects built, has developed a bad case of airport envy. Having in the early 1960s led the nation into the Jet Age with state-of-the-art facilities, Los Angeles International Airport now looks shabby compared with the gleaming new terminals at San Francisco and Seattle-Tacoma airports. Adding insult to injury, the restaurant in the iconic Theme Building closed last week because of structural weaknesses in the arches. With the number of available international seats going through LAX dropping 12% since 9/11, its status as a major global hub appears threatened. Recently, alarmed L.A. officials hastily revived plans to build 11 new gates at the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Compared with its gleaming West Coast rivals, however, LAX's international passenger losses are small. Despite the large drop in available international seats and the airport's "cramped and old" facilities, there was only a modest 3% decline in international passengers from 2000 to 2006. In contrast, the number of international passengers going through San Francisco airport, which opened its new $1-billion international passenger terminal in 2000, was up only 2%, while at Seattle-Tacoma, which also recently renovated its terminals, the number grew a measly 3%. One big reason for these lackluster figures is the difficulty of obtaining U.S. tourist visas since 9/11.
Nevertheless, the praise heaped on larger, newer airports has many Angelenos wondering whether the city needs a comparable facility to retain its competitive edge. The sectors that power Southern California's economy — international trade, tourism, technology, entertainment and professional services — depend on airports to connect the region with the rest of the nation and the global economy. A new generation of longer-range aircraft that makes it possible to fly nonstop from Asian airports to such U.S. cities as Phoenix and Las Vegas adds urgency to the question. If San Francisco can upgrade its airport in dramatic fashion and attract new business, why can't L.A.?
The problem is that L.A. remains addicted to the "culture of Mulhollandism" — grandiose, expensive public works projects that require the sort of over-planning that inevitably inflames opposition and results in stalemate. In San Francisco, by contrast, community and environmental representatives were closely involved from the get-go in planning for the airport's upgrade, and the steps taken were relatively modest.
In the early 20th century, public entrepreneurs, such as William Mulholland, could marshal the civic will and resources to build the Los Angeles and Colorado River aqueducts, the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the L.A. Municipal Airport, which became LAX. These huge public works became the foundation for the region's subsequent growth and economic prosperity.

In the final decade of the century, however, Mulhollandism persisted even as the political terrain shifted dramatically. In densely populated Southern California, new mega-projects became much more difficult to build because of community opposition, environmental challenges and funding constraints.Years of unrealistic, overly ambitious LAX master planning have contributed to the region's current airport-capacity problems. Among these grand projects was the 98 million air passenger "runway in the bay" — to be built on a berm in Santa Monica Bay — proposed in the mid-1990s. Then there was the more recent "Alternative D," a hastily assembled $12-billion proposal to promote "safety and security" at LAX after 9/11. It called for the creation of an off-airport passenger check-in facility at Manchester Square, the demolition of terminals and LAX's central parking structure and the extension of runways toward Westchester.

Efforts to plan for new airports in the rest of Southern California, where the shortfall is greatest, have been similarly affected by Mulhollandism. In 1996, Orange County officials christened plans for a new airport at El Toro, claiming that it would rival LAX in size. El Toro was subsequently scaled down to a "community-friendly" facility less than half its original size. By then, the proposal had galvanized opponents, and the site was ultimately lost to proponents of a Great Park, a landscape of artificial lakes, streams and a rugged canyon. This was the last great opportunity in the region for a major new international airport to supplement LAX.

More recently, the San Diego County Regional Airport Authority completed a site study for a new airport to replace severely overtaxed Lindbergh Field. Rather than evaluate modest alternatives that would supplement existing facilities, officials focused on winning voter approval for a major two-runway international airport. The results were predictable. With no suitable civilian sites available, San Diego airport officials selected Marine Corps Air Station Miramar as the site of the new airport and put the idea on the November 2006 ballot. The proposal, which angered both the military and communities nearby, was soundly defeated by San Diego voters.

For better or worse, it is unlikely that a major new airport will be built in Southern California again. As a result, regional management of our airports has to improve, and that can be more easily accomplished if we overcome our addiction to Mulhollandism. For example, airports such as L.A./Ontario International should be protected from incompatible housing development that might produce NIMBYs who complain about noise. Enlarging and adding road access to that airport is another example of a modest enhancement that would yield immediate dividends. At LAX, the addition of the 11 gates at the Bradley Terminal is a prime example of a sensible upgrade, as is the new system of flyaway buses that allows remote ticketing and baggage check-in.
Abandoning Mulhollandism will mean that politicians will probably have fewer ribbons to cut. But the reward will be a more efficient regional airport system in which our scarce resources are directed to improvements that benefit those who live, work in and travel to Southern California.
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Old March 13th, 2007, 09:45 PM   #13
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good grab. but lime green text, good reading it does not make... mmmmm...
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Old March 14th, 2007, 01:43 AM   #14
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uhh.. the green text ticked me too.. but i loved the article, good find
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Old March 14th, 2007, 03:11 AM   #15
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On the contrary I enjoyed the Lime Green Lettering and of course great article!!!
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Old March 14th, 2007, 06:16 AM   #16
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I hated the constant reference to Mullholandism, but everything else about the article was great. Let's get a plan and do what we can now and prepare for what we can do in the future.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 07:48 AM   #17
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An L.A. Airport Attempts to Take Off
By SCOTT MCCARTNEY
March 13, 2007; Page D6



In the late 1960s, Los Angeles bought up 17,000 acres of land about 50 miles northeast of the city to build a huge new international airport. Come June, after rabbits get chased out of an old terminal, a couple of daily flights will actually take off.

UAL Corp.'s United Airlines will begin flying 50-seat regional jets between San Francisco and LA/Palmdale Regional Airport (the "LA" was recently added to the airport's name). Los Angeles is spending heavily to open up Palmdale and entice United by covering losses, handling advertising and marketing and shining up the dusty outpost. The city's airport agency, Los Angeles World Airports, likely will spend an astounding $300 or more for every passenger who uses the airport in the next year. The airport may pay more than the passenger.

"If you believe this is an investment in our future for air travel for Southern California, it can't be avoided," says Paul Haney, LAWA's deputy executive director.

Palmdale, which today is home to top-secret Air Force projects and acres of pistachio trees, shows how far big cities have to go to try to relieve airport congestion and find room for growth. The commercial airport consists of a 1970s era terminal, which is currently being refurbished for the new United flights. Those flights are scheduled to begin June 7.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey last month agreed to pay $78.5 million to buy the lease on Stewart Airport in Newburgh, N.Y., about 55 miles north of Manhattan, hoping to further expand the former Air Force base into a viable fourth major airport for New York City. The city of Chicago has been financially supporting the Gary, Ind., airport, which has been renamed Gary/Chicago International Airport, in hopes of developing passenger service and eventually becoming a third big airport for Chicago 25 miles from the Chicago Loop.

Getting airlines to serve satellite airports far from downtown can be a tough sell. LAWA offered to cover $2 million of airline losses, partly funded by a $900,000 federal grant, plus provide $1.2 million of free rent, marketing and other goodies. Only United and Delta Air Lines Inc. bid, and LAWA selected United largely because it has more frequent fliers in the area.

The Palmdale land, mostly desert dotted with Joshua trees, is five times as large as LAX. It was bought with the idea of building a vast new airport as Denver, Dallas and Kansas City, Mo., did.

Today, Palmdale is an eclectic California mix of Hollywood, stealth aircraft and agriculture. With two long, super-strong runways owned by the Air Force, the airport is home to Air Force Plant 42, where defense contractors develop highly classified aircraft projects. The space shuttle was built here, and Palmdale has Lockheed Martin's "Skunk Works" and Boeing Co.'s "Phantom Works," the companies' aircraft research and development facilities.

A giant hangar where the B-1 bomber was built has been turned into a Hollywood sound stage where "The Terminal" and some of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series have been filmed. LAWA is also the landlord for a nine-hole golf course, a grass sod farm and a pistachio farm on irrigated acreage. Onions and carrots are grown on airport land, too.

While several earlier attempts at commuter airline flights from Palmdale to Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Phoenix failed in the 1990s, LAWA and local officials hope that the fast-growing area is big enough to support an airport with regional jets feeding hubs of several carriers. If it works, then Palmdale could become a sixth commercial airport in the Los Angeles basin. "This can provide relief to other congested facilities like LAX," says Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford.

Having commercial flights at the airport won't be a security problem because top-secret projects already have to be kept under wraps from public view, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Ronald Hirtle, the commander of Plant 42. "We always have a security issue," he says. Some test flights are done at night; some projects are trucked to Edwards Air Force base nearby for more-secure testing.

LAWA plans an aggressive marketing campaign aimed at the 7,000 workers at Plant 42, including Palmdale Airport ads on stripes in employee parking lots. The pitch is that Palmdale will be a no-hassle airport with free parking and a walk of only about 100 yards to airplanes. For military officials and contractors heading east to Washington or other destinations, a one-hour commuter flight from Palmdale to United's San Francisco hub will be quicker than a two-hour drive to Los Angeles.

If Palmdale flights get filled and service expands, LAWA may one day build a new terminal and if the airport really takes off, build its own runways to keep from crowding Air Force traffic. If the service doesn't work, the airport organization may decide to sell the land and give up. "This is the last chance to make this go," says Mr. Haney.

Los Angeles long ago gave up the idea of replacing LAX, but the city does have a long-term airport capacity problem. Community groups don't want to see LAX expand beyond 78 million passengers a year, and the number of gates has been capped as part of agreements with neighborhoods. Voters in Burbank approved a moratorium on any construction at that airport. Orange County's airport has a cap on passengers; Long Beach has a limit on the number of commercial flights.

Only Ontario, about 50 miles east of LAX, and Palmdale have unfettered growth potential. With air travel forecast to double by 2025 in Southern California, "the whole region is really dependent on those two airports," said Mr. Haney.

The Southern California Association of Governments estimates 12 million passengers will use Palmdale Airport by 2020. That would be remarkable considering Ontario today handles about seven million passengers a year. But with capacity capped at most other airports, growth in air travel may not have many other places to go.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 04:57 PM   #18
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Now that I know the majority of readers hate the lime green color, it will be banned from my list. ( Sorry Ferney.)

L.A./Ontario Int. has great potential, lots of room to expand and build. The city of L.A., I believe, will focus on this regional airport more than Palmdale.
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Old March 14th, 2007, 07:34 PM   #19
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expand it into the ocean!!! im actually a little surprised how little land reclamation happens here. aside from the port of la/lb
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Old March 14th, 2007, 08:34 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by godblessbotox View Post
expand it into the ocean!!! im actually a little surprised how little land reclamation happens here. aside from the port of la/lb
What taxpayer would support it when it is cheaper to expand Ontario (and hopefully the HSR project persuades everyone against airport expansion).
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