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# The action pushes the $11-billion proposal to the top of the mayor-elect's agenda.

By Jennifer Oldham and Jessica Garrison, Times Staff Writers

Federal officials signed off on the city's $11-billion modernization plan for Los Angeles International Airport on Friday, allowing construction to start and forcing Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa to make the issue a top priority.

Villaraigosa said he had spoken with U.S. Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta after the decision was announced and told him that he opposed some of the plan's major components. Villaraigosa wants to eliminate a controversial passenger check-in center near the San Diego Freeway.

"He indicated that the decision was well on its way, and that they could not delay it because it was all ready to be issued," Villaraigosa said of the conversation.

The Federal Aviation Administration must complete an environmental impact report and sign off on the city's plan, but its decision Friday does not mean the city must follow the plan to the letter.

"This doesn't require the city or the airport to take any action at all," said Donn Walker, an FAA spokesman. "It simply means if they want to they can go ahead and implement" their airport plan.

The approval comes just three days after voters replaced the airport plan's two strongest proponents — Mayor James K. Hahn and Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski — with Villaraigosa and Bill Rosendahl, who oppose the proposal.

The FAA's action will require Villaraigosa, who has not offered a comprehensive alternative blueprint, to make some tough decisions about LAX this summer. The city is currently spending about $2 million a month to design projects and to pay for legal costs. Some of the money is being spent on parts of the proposal that Villaraigosa opposes.

"I believe that we need to develop a regional approach to expanding capacity," he said, adding that he thinks other airports should absorb some of the growth in passenger traffic.

On Friday, the airport-area's congressional representatives also decried the FAA's 58-page ruling.

"The only thing I can conclude is this may be an effort by someone to try to move the process forward faster and disregard the fact that we have a new councilman … and a new mayor," said Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles).

Waters and Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice), who both endorsed Villaraigosa, have repeatedly called on Los Angeles officials to revamp the plan, which was introduced by Hahn shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The plan is highly unpopular in airport-area communities. On Tuesday, Villaraigosa outpolled Hahn in most of these areas.

Officials hope to break ground on the first construction project, moving the southernmost runway 55 feet closer to El Segundo, next spring. The city must first hire a contractor, and the Airport Commission and the City Council must sign off on the project and its environmental documents.

Costs related to the plan are sure to mount as opponents file suit in the next 60 days to challenge the federal environmental impact report.When asked if her clients — Inglewood, Culver City and Los Angeles County — would sue in federal court, attorney Barbara Lichman said: "There's no question about it."

The city is currently facing litigation brought in state court by these entities and airport-area residents. The lawsuit alleges that the complex environmental studies for the LAX plan understate the effects of noise, air pollution and traffic. A hearing is scheduled in August.

How Villaraigosa chooses to fix LAX could have wide-ranging implications for his administration. Reworking the city's aging airport, which was used by about 60 million travelers last year, has proven to be problematic for both Hahn and his predecessor, Richard J. Riordan. The city has spent $147 million in the last 10 years trying to rework the world's fifth-busiest airport, which consistently ranks near the bottom in surveys of traveler satisfaction.

Riordan left office before his expansion plan was approved. Hahn's plan faced certain defeat in the City Council last year before Miscikowski — who currently represents the airport area — suggested splitting the plan's projects into two phases.

The first phase features the most popular elements, including a transit hub near the Century Freeway, a consolidated rental car center in parking lot C and a people mover.

More controversial components, including a check-in center in a Westchester neighborhood, the demolition of terminals 1, 2 and 3 and the building of a terminal in the middle of the airport's horseshoe-shaped roadway, are part of a second phase. These so-called "yellow-light" projects require additional traffic, environmental and safety reviews before they could be built.

Hahn lauded the FAA's decision Friday.

"I am pleased," he said in a statement, "and look forward to working with labor, businesses, public safety officials and other stakeholders throughout the city as we continue to make LAX a model for safety, security and passenger convenience."

But the mayor is unlikely to see any actual progress on his plan before he leaves office.

Villaraigosa is likely to make a decision about LAX in conjunction with Rosendahl, a former local television host who won Miscikowski's seat. Rosendahl said Friday that he would "expect a reconsideration and another opportunity to weigh in on the issue."

"The mayor-elect … and I will talk a little bit more about our common strategy," he said.

Community leaders and legal experts questioned whether Rosendahl would be able to request another council vote on Hahn's LAX plan.

"I think it's a hard thing to do to have council members go back on a vote so shortly after their original vote," said Brendan Huffman, director of public policy at the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.

Legal experts said that Villaraigosa could order the Airport Commission to start the whole process over. But he has said that he wanted the first phase of Hahn's plan to move forward.

Complicating the matter is Villaraigosa's assertion that he would kill the proposal's most controversial projects. Attorneys for the city and opponents argue that removing the second phase would invalidate the plan's environmental analysis. The new mayor also would have to grapple with how to hold capacity at LAX to 78 million passengers. The plan to do that, by removing 10 gates for airplanes, is part of the second phase.

If he does away with that phase, Villaraigosa would also jeopardize part of a $500-million agreement tied to Hahn's plan that is designed to ease noise, air pollution and traffic and provide jobs to residents living near LAX.

Architects of this deal said Friday that the community benefits were linked to individual projects and that schools near the airport would probably lose a large portion of funding if the controversial projects were cut.

"If the yellow-light projects are scaled back, then the benefits tied to those projects would be scaled back or eliminated," said Danny Tabor, a former Inglewood city councilman. He said the coalition that negotiated with airport officials to reach a community-benefits agreement was hoping to meet with Villaraigosa soon.

"We really need to show him how it all fits together so he has a clear understanding of the various aspects of the master plan."

Other airport-area residents also hope to get the mayor-elect's ear, saying they will withdraw litigation if he agrees to a proposal they plan to release next week. The document will ask for a security study of the plan, a limit on passenger growth and an increase in landing fees as an incentive for airlines to fly the new 550-seat Airbus A380, the largest airliner ever built, to city-owned airports in Ontario and Palmdale.

"They could have variable landing fees … that would make alternative airports much more attractive," said Jan Chatten-Brown, an attorney who represents airport-area residents. "There are other airports in the Greater Los Angeles area that have the capacity to take up the burden, and a lot of these communities want these flights."

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Approaching take-off

The two-phase, $11-billion remodeling of Los Angeles International Airport could start next year and would take at least 10 years to complete.

First phase

International terminal: $683 million

Add gates to west side of Tom Bradley terminal

People mover: $557 million

Construct elevated people mover to connect new transit center, rental car center and existing terminals

Rental car center: $476 million

Consolidate most rental car companies at one site

Intermodal transit center: $293 million

Connect bus routes and Green Line with people mover; add 9,100 parking spaces

West employee parking: $268 million

Build 12,400-space structure

South airfield: $255 million

Rebuild southernmost runway 55 feet farther south and construct center taxiway for added safety

Roads and communications: $230 million

Improve streets and add new communications network

South terminals: $125 million

Modernize southern terminals

Southeast surface parking: $32 million

Add 5,470 long-term parking spaces

Total: $2.9 billion

--

Second phase

Central terminal area: $2.22 billion

After demolishing parking structures,build a new terminal on the site

Satellite terminal: $1.78 billion

Add new concourse to handle larger aircraft, with connections to people mover and baggage system

North airfield: $1.247 billion

Rebuild parallel runways to handle larger aircraft and construct center taxiway for added safety

Central check-in facility: $1.18 billion

Build check-in center with people mover stations, 7,495 parking spaces and a baggage tunnel to terminals

North concourse: $850 million

Build new north concourse.

People mover: $557 million

Link the check-in center with the terminals

Communications and roads: $143 million

Complete communications network; improve roads

Fuel farm: $56 million

Reconfigure fuel farm to accommodate new taxiways

Total: $8.0 billion

Source: Los Angeles World Airports
 

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damn. might as well build a completely new airport..
 

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That's great news...LAX is aesthetically underwhelming right now and reminds me of Vancouver's airport before its modernization (old and ugly).
 

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Bleed Dodger Blue
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LOS ANGELES AIRPORT (LAX) | Development News

http://cbs2.com/topstories/local_story_057184847.html

The Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport will undergo a $723.5 million makeover -- the largest single construction project in the city's history, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced Monday.

"Tom Bradley International Terminal is one of the most used terminals in the country and the world, and it is only fitting that we keep it modern and up-to-date," Villaraigosa said.

"This renovation project is absolutely critical to the development of this airport and the satisfaction, convenience and safety of our passengers."

The project will add 45,000 square feet of space to the 1 million-square-foot terminal. It will also add a $140 million in-line baggage screening system, two executive lounges, new elevators and escalators, a paging system and moving walkways and a new security system.

"Los Angeles International Airport is the gateway to our city," Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl said. "It is important that we provide a safer, greener, more modern and efficient airport for our traveling public. These renovations do just that."

The Tom Bradley International Terminal was built in 1984, the same year Los Angeles hosted the Summer Olympic Games. The terminal's renovations are expected to be completed by 2010.

"Once completed, the new Tom Bradley International Terminal will boost LAX up the ranks as the number one airport in the world," Villaraigosa said. "This will be a world-class facility and a leader in technological advancements."

The project will be funded through airline reimbursements, airport fees and federal grants.



Sounds good to me.
 

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"There It Is, Take It!"
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I'm sure there will be new gates built to accept the Airbus A380 and future super-jumbo jets. Anyone have pics of a model or artist's rendering?
 

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LAL | LAD | LAK
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What about the rest of LAX? Overall, LAX is such a dated and crappy airport.
 

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Bleed Dodger Blue
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The rest of it? Right now it just seems like a dream.
 

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LAL | LAD | LAK
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But you're missing the point. The point is that LAX is a major international airport. It should not be in the condition that it is in. We're comparing our airport with Detroit? Unfortunately, we can't say that Paris CDG is crappier.
 

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Silver Lake
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So thank the homeowners in El Segundo! LAX was to be updated and expanded a decade ago. This cohesive band of 88 cities in one county one for all and all for one just doesn't work anymore.
Some of you act as if no one has thought about any of this before that perhaps you're the one who is going to finally enlighten the rest of us on the obvious; same goes for mass transit and affordable housing. Yes, we do have many o' incompetent politcian but many are quite competent and capable. All of this shit has been discussed and proposed before, in fact Hahn Jr. wanted to do this while he was in office. The little shithole cities that surround LAX opposed airport expansion with their last breath. They complained about the additional traffic that it would cause as well as the noise. But the traffic mitigation issue only comes up because of the lack of efficient rail in and out of the airport. Which is only a problem because the construction of modern day rail was hobbled back in the 50's when it was first seriously proposed but subsequently opposed by the rich homeowners namely in Hancock Park and Beverly Hills. I mean JFK still does not have a one seat ride to the airport like Chicago or SF which finally got access, it only has a people mover that then will take you to the Howard Beach stop on the A. La Guardia doesn't have access to rail either and probably never will. I'm saying that to say that airport politics are on a whole 'nother level due to its entanglement in cross strata city, county, state and federal muck. And extending the Green Line to the airport was part of the original airport expansion plan that has since been shot down and reassessed.
So just stating that the airport needs to be expanded because it's crappy is something that we all know. The next step is finding out how to get around the constituents in El Segundo to expand the airport. But good luck because AV has already said that the original grand airport expansion won't happen but higher traffic to the regions satellite airports will.
 

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Bleed Dodger Blue
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I think he doesn't want to deal with those people there, and with the history, who can blame him?

Let's just look at this chain of ignorance:
We can't extend the Green Line because parking lot attendants will lose money.
Residents don't want an expansion because it would increase traffic.
The Green Line extension would relieve traffic at a newly expanded airport.

Someone has to give way for anything to happen, either the residents or cab and parking lot owners. Doesn't that make you depressed to know that it will never happen?
 

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Silver Lake
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It doesn't mean that it won't ever happen. It just means that you don't believe it will never happen because in LA many people have developed a learned helplessness in the face of ass-backward NIMBY's. Actually their is a councilman(forget his name over there) that is pushing for the Green Line up through Lincoln, sorry that I forgot his name......wait, Rosenthal? Yes, Bill Rosendahl is pushing for this so please stop acting like the whole city is in despair.http://www.lacity.org/council/cd11/
 

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Bleed Dodger Blue
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Then it's a good thing that this isn't SSP. Seeing it fail for 20 years and then having no politician actively seeking it isn't too encouraging. At least the Green Line extension has some support.

What can I say, bureaucracy annoys me a lot.
 

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Silver Lake
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Then it's a good thing that this isn't SSP. Seeing it fail for 20 years and then having no politician actively seeking it isn't too encouraging. At least the Green Line extension has some support.

What can I say, bureaucracy annoys me a lot.
That's not true. Did you go to the link up above.
LAX expansion has been talked about incessantly, their really has never been a time when the airport has not been in the news. No one ever forgot LAX whether you have been pro expansion or opposing it.
 

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Silver Lake
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Speak of the devil!
This perpetual LA negativism has got to stop. I ran upon this article while ironically perusing SSP:

Proposal to extend subway to Los Angeles airport
Sunday, February 25, 2007

Printable Version Email This Article
(02-25) 13:09 PST Los Angeles (AP) --


A new government agency would be responsible for extending the subway to the Los Angeles International Airport under a bill introduced in the state Legislature.


The light-rail Metro Green Line currently stops about a mile away from LAX, where passengers have to board a free shuttle to the airport terminal.


The bill introduced last week by Assemblyman Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, would create a new agency to oversee the planning, funding and construction of a subway extension into LAX.


"We should be doing anything we can to encourage people to get out of their cars," Lieu said.


Lieu is a member of the Green Line Coalition, a group of elected officials who is lobbying to expand the light-rail line to the airport.


Under the bill, the agency's board of directors would be appointed by the Legislature. The agency would also be responsible for securing local, state and federal funding for the project.


If the bill is passed by the Legislature, the new agency likely won't operate until 2009, Lieu said.


___


Information from: Daily Breeze,


www.dailybreeze.com

So no, we're not the first ones to think about this.
 

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Silver Lake
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Yet another! I found all of these articles within 30 minutes while you sat around complaining that nothing was being done and that the Green Line extension had been forgotten.

LA Council member Moves to Create Westside “Rail Network”By Lookout Staff

February 23 -- Los Angeles Council member Bill Rosendahl called on his colleagues this week to get on board a coordinated "rail network" for the Westside that could help alleviate Santa Monica's traffic woes.

Rosendahl -- who has presented an ambitious transportation agenda since his election two years ago -- introduced a motion Wednesday that would explore creating a coordinated Westside "rail network" by linking east-west mass transit lines.

"When it comes to mass transit and fighting gridlock, we cannot think piecemeal," Rosendahl said."We need a coordinated, comprehensive long-range strategy."

The study -- funded with $200,000 in traffic fees paid by Westside development projects -- would look at where and how to connect the eventual Purple Line subway to the sea, the Exposition Light Rail line and the eventual Green Line extension into LAX.

Among the possibilities that will be studied would be adding a north-south rail line or merging the routes of two of the east-west lines, Rosendahl said.

“The study will also look at how best to link people with activity and employment centers as well as residential and recreational areas,” Rosendahl said.

A connected rail system with a “tremendous capacity to move people,” he said, is a "common-sense approach" to alleviating traffic gridlock on Westside streets and freeways.

Rosendahl's motion specifically requests the council to authorize and instruct the Department of Transportation to add a comprehensive Westside Los Angeles rail corridor and connectivity analysis to DOT's West LA Traffic Study.

In addition, the council would authorize the transportation department to apply for grant funding from other agencies such as SCAG, SCAQMD, Caltrans and Metro. They money would help prepare a comprehensive plan, including environmental and technical studies, for transportation improvements within the West LA Traffic study area.

"The current state of our traffic gridlock requires a detailed and comprehensive analysis of our transportation infrastructure," Rosendahl said. "I want to ensure that the Department of Transportation is well-equipped to provide such a study."

Rosendahl’s motion comes two months after he unveiled an “anti-gridlock plan” that included short-term and long-term projects to relieve congestion and promote mass transit on the Westside. The expenditures, all on the Westside, total more than $11 million dollars and require formal council approval.

Rosendahl's motion, one of many within his spending proposal, was referred to the City's Transportation Committee.


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