Los Angeles’ Massive Airport Makeover

LAX is investing billions of dollars on a multi-project makeover that includes a new concourse, a people mover, and other airport infrastructure, scheduled to be completed by 2023.

Los Angeles Airport Projects

  • Landside Access Modernization Project (LAMP) – $5.5 billion completed 2023
    -Automated People Move – $1.9 billion completed 2023
    -All other projects are still in the RFP phase so budget and completion dates are fluid but it will be before 2023
  • Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC) – $2.0 billion completed 2020
  • Delta SkyWay – $1.86 billion completed 2023

To say Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) had been neglected would be an understatement. After years of failing to invest in improvements, the airport found itself in desperate need of attention. Gridlock on the access roads, dingy and inadequate gate areas, unconnected terminals, and a general shortage of space all came together to create one of the worst major international airport experiences in the world.

Finally, more than a decade ago, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) began embarking on a massive series of renovation projects to bring LAX up to a higher standard.  Every terminal has undergone renovation, but none has been transformed like the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) which saw its entire original concourse bulldozed in favor of a sparkling new structure.   While the airport continues to plow forward on dozens of projects big and small, there are three that will stand out as having the biggest impact on travelers once completed.

Midfield Satellite Concourse looking east.

Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC)

Travelers on aircraft taxiing to the west of TBIT have seen steel rising on a site where an old hangar has given way to the skeleton of a new $2 billion concourse project that will open at the beginning of 2020.  The 12-gate northern part of Midfield Satellite Concourse (MSC), when finished, will be accessed via underground tunnel from TBIT.  There is a second phase to the south which would provide additional gates if approved in the future.

The project was designed by Gensler and Corgan with Turner and PCL as the contractors.

Delta SkyWay

While the MSC is the most visible project currently under construction, a massive new $1.86 billion effort has begun to re-imagine Terminals 2 and 3 by 2023. Last May, Delta Air Lines negotiated to become the primary tenant in both of those terminals while moving other airlines out to other parts of the airport. As part of its commitment, Delta promised to make major upgrades, something most needed in Terminal 3, a terminal which has been barely touched since opening half a century ago.

Delta Skyway rendering

At the end of May, Delta officially kicked off its SkyWay project. This will not only massively upgrade the existing terminals and create a single security checkpoint, but it will also include behind-security connections for travelers going between Terminals 2, 3, and TBIT. That is handled via bus today.

This was originally scheduled to be completed by 2024, but according to a Delta spokesperson, the headhouse will be completed by 2021 with the rest of the project finished by 2023.

Landside Access Modernization Project (LAMP)

The two previous projects would be considered large by most airports, but they are dwarfed by the $5.5 billion Landside Access Modernization Project (LAMP). In reality, the LAMP is a collection of multiple projects that will move to alleviate the gridlock that plagues travelers accessing the airport today.

LAWA spokesperson Mark Waier says that the last purchase of land in the former Manchester Square neighborhood is nearly complete. Just to the west of the I-405 freeway, this will become the consolidated rent-a-car facility (ConRAC).  Today, car rental companies are scattered throughout the area in their own facilities. The final RFP for this project was issued in April of this year.

This will be bounded to the west by the eastern Intermodal Transportation Facility (ITF East). There will be long-term parking options there as well as a connection to the Metro Green and Crenshaw line trains. Today, the Green line stops south of the airport and requires taking a shuttle bus through traffic-choked roads for the final leg. The Metro line is expected to open for service in 2019.

Further west is the ITF West which will have more long-term parking. This facility will be a hub for various transport connections. Passengers can be dropped off and picked up by friends, hotel/car rental shuttles, and city buses. It is expected to open in late-2020.

Connecting all of these facilities will be an Automated People Mover (APM).

APM Guideway over Century Blvd.

This elevated train will run from the rental car facility via the ITFs and into the central terminal area. It will run as a spine through the center of the terminals with three stations that will allow passengers to walk via elevated indoor walkways to each terminal. The APM project has been awarded to a consortium of companies known as LAX Integrated Express Solutions (LINXS) under a Public Private Partnership Design Build Finance Operate Maintain (DBFOM) Model.  It is expected to open in 2023 at a cost of $1.9 billion.  The rest of the pieces of the LAMP remain in the RFP phase.

The original plan was to have this work finished in time for the 2024 Olympics. Though Los Angeles has been selected for the 2028 Olympics instead, the plan has not been changed. Once these projects are completed, LAX will be transformed into a more functional airport, but long-term concerns remain.  There are additional projects on the horizon to increase terminal capacity including new terminals 0 and 9, but there are no plans to increase runway capacity at this time.

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