Great News: Agreement Allows LAX Modernization to Take Flight

Gary Toebben

August 30, 2016

In 2013, the Los Angeles City Council approved the Specific Plan Amendment Study (SPAS), which evaluated projects that were part of the Los Angeles International Airport’s 2004 Master Plan. The passage of SPAS was a huge victory for L.A., as it laid out plans for projects that would kick-start desperately needed modernization at LAX, as well as upgrades to passenger safety and security. The L.A. Area Chamber and organized Labor led the charge in securing this approval in 2013.

Since then, the City has been mired in lawsuits with the community and nearby municipalities. Until now. A judicial victory by the City earlier this year prompted Los Angeles leaders and the community back to the table to develop a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of L.A., Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion (ARSAC). The L.A. City Council unanimously approved that MOU last week and we are elated.

SPAS laid out a series of projects to modernize LAX and increase safety for the traveling public. Under the leadership of Mayor Eric Garcetti and Councilman Mike Bonin, LAX has moved forward on a package of projects now known as the Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP), which will construct two Intermodal Transportation Facilities, a Consolidated Rental Car facility and an automated people mover that will at long last connect the airport to our growing Metro system. This agreement with the community will allow these vital projects to proceed immediately, without threat of litigation that would stall progress. The MOU also removes the gate cap in 2020 and will enable LAWA to replace the West Remote Gates with more passenger friendly facilities.

The SPAS document in 2013 detailed a number of safety projects for the north airfield, including the relocation of the northern most runway 260 feet to the north. This MOU decouples the safety projects and calls for the airport to immediately begin the environmental work on the non-runway relocation elements. Once those improvements have been implemented for three years, LAWA can then commence the project specific EIR and NEPA work on the north runway relocation project. Those studies will examine the safety impact of the improvements already made and the current airline fleet mix to determine the necessity of moving forward with the north runway movement.

The Chamber believes this MOU is an appropriate balance among community concerns, passenger safety and the needs of the region's economy. LAX has billions in capital projects underway to bring our airport into the 21st century. This agreement lays out a timeline to continue that momentum. We urge the other entities that sued Los Angeles in 2013 to use this MOU as the template for their own agreements so that LAX can proceed on modernization improvements that will benefit the entire region.

And that's The Business Perspective.

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