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LAX's $4.1-billion makeover showing signs of progress


The nearly 62 million people who annually move through Los Angeles International Airport can now see with their own eyes the improvements being made to what was long considered one of the nation’s worst airports.

The $4.1-billion modernization — starting with a nearly $2-billion expansion of the Tom Bradley International Terminal — is designed to restore the airport’s reputation as the premier international gateway on the West Coast. It includes wider taxiways, new escalators and elevators, remodeled passenger facilities and a rebuilt central utility plant to provide heating and air conditioning throughout the terminal complex.

At the Bradley terminal, about a million square feet will be added and 18 gates will be built, six more than the facility now has. Plans call for two new concourses with larger, more comfortable areas for passengers and a soaring great hall with tiered areas for upscale dining and shopping. Baggage claim and the federal inspection station will be enlarged to reduce wait times for international travelers.

Completed so far are a center taxiway between the airport’s two southern runways to improve safety and a $737-million remodel of the Bradley’s main building, which included an automated system to move luggage to screening areas and aircraft.

Airport officials say the first of the current projects should be completed in September, when a gate designed to accommodate Airbus A380s, the largest passenger plane in service, is scheduled to open on the north side of the Bradley terminal.

All the westside gates and the terminal’s great hall are scheduled to be finished in spring 2013.


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-- Dan Weikel

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