A new, $148.5 million connector building dedicated Thursday at Los Angeles International Airport will save millions of travelers time and inconvenience catching flights between Tom Bradley International Terminal and five domestic terminals.
• VIDEO: Get a mini-tour of the new building as Mayor Garcetti speaks
At a ribbon-connecting ceremony in front of a glassy bridge with an airfield-view, Mayor Eric Garcetti and airport officials clasped the buckle of an oversized seat belt and hailed the facility as an important piece of a $14 billion modernization of the world’s seventh-busiest airport.
The multilevel, airside building provides direct access between Tom Bradley International Terminal and south-facing Terminals 4-8, eliminating the need for passengers to exit one terminal, walk or take a shuttle outside, and go through TSA lines to enter the other.
Instead, they can take moving walkways and escalators through a towering, light-filled atrium, and rescreen at a much less crowded internal checkpoint.
Only two of four screening lanes have been needed to process about 3,000 passengers a day since a soft opening in the spring, officials said.
Garcetti called the completion of the project “a big step forward in our vision to make LAX a first-class airport, a world-class airport that increasingly matches the dynamism and the creativity of L.A. — a place that delivers the best first and last impression.”
• PHOTOS: Looking around the new connector building at LAX
Some 52.3 million travelers passed through Tom Bradley International Terminal and the south-facing terminals last year — about 70 percent of overall passengers, according to Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that runs the airport.
“We’re going to have a more effective, more efficient LAX, one with less time and headaches and more time doing the fun things at an airport — shopping, eating, getting excited about your flight or being welcomed into this great city,” Garcetti said.
Two days earlier, the mayor took aim at Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who described LAX and other major U.S. airports as having “Third World” conditions during the first presidential debate on Monday.
Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who chairs the city committee that oversees the airport, said the facility does more than prevent headaches, but provides “a more unified front door to L.A.”
The connector, which spans 104,000 square feet on five levels, is the first nonresidential building to meet the city’s Tier 2 green standards. Another is planned to link Tom Bradley International Terminal and Terminals 1-3, according to airport officials.
Sean Burton, president of the city Board of Airport Commissioners, said he has heard anecdotally that the connector saves passengers about 45 minutes catching connecting flights.
A changing landscape
Deborah Flint, CEO of Los Angeles World Airports, said the new building represents the direction of a series of massive renovations planned for the airport.
“Connectivity through the entire airport experience is the future of LAX,” she said, adding that train connection is just a few years away.
A $5 billion transit overhaul to be completed by 2024 — and detailed in a recently released environmental impact report — includes two off-site intermodal transfer facilities for trains, buses and vehicles, a consolidated rental car facility, and a 2.25-mile elevated automated people mover.
In August, LAX settled a lawsuit from neighboring residents over concerns with noise and environmental pollution, primary from plans to move a north runway closer to homes in Westchester.
All of the changes, Flint said, “will alleviate tremendous traffic in and around the airport area and provide further connectivity, seamlessness and efficiency that this great city and its passengers deserve.”