Golden shovels in hand, city leaders and airport officials broke ground Monday on the latest multibillion-dollar expansion of Los Angeles International Airport.
Mayor Eric Garcetti touted the project as a source of jobs and a move to expand L.A.’s international reach. The $1.6 billion project will create 6,000 jobs during the peak of construction and add more than $300 million in direct wages to the regional economy, according to officials at Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that operates LAX.
“Los Angeles is ground zero for new construction and infrastructure investment. Our downtown is growing, our public transportation infrastructure is expanding, our waterfront is developing, and so it is appropriate that we are investing billions into modernizing the second busiest airport in the country,” City Councilman Joe Buscaino said in a statement.
The Midfield Satellite Concourse is the latest project at LAX, which is undergoing a $5 billion modernization program that has included revamped terminals and a new connector building. The project has changed somewhat since it was approved by the Board of Airport Commissioners in 2014. At that time, it was planned to have 29 gates and cost $900 million.
When it opens in late 2019, the five-story expansion will add 12 new gates, including two that will be able to handle megajets like the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-8. The new gates also will allow the airport to depend less on the west side of the airport, which features fewer passenger amenities, according to the release.
“The Midfield Satellite Concourse project will employ thousands and benefit millions,” said Councilman Bob Blumenfield, chairman of the City Council’s Innovation, Grants, Technology, Commerce and Trade Committee, in a news release.
The 750,000-square-foot concourse will be attached to the existing Tom Bradley International Terminal via a 1,000-foot tunnel for passengers. It will include 44,000 square feet of food and retail options and, for international arrivals, easy-to-follow paths from the airline gates to the federal customs inspection station in the Bradley terminal, according to the release.
The new building will include a roof designed to mimic the shape of a breaking wave and open space meant to take advantage of natural light.
Water-saving plumbing, a roof designed to reduce heat absorption and passive daylight lighting all will be among the design elements included to make the concourse more environmentally sustainable, according to the release.
The project also includes a revamp of the existing baggage system in the Bradley terminal. The new system, which is set to roll out in late 2019, will be the largest integrated baggage carrier system in the country, according to the release.
“With nearly 81 million passengers in 2016, and projections for more in the future, LAX is leading the nation in airport infrastructure improvement with innovative design, state-of- the-art features and efficiencies that will return LAX to iconic status and give travelers the world-class experience they expect and deserve,” said Sean Burton, president of the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners.