The second of two scheduled public comment meetings on the draft environmental impact report (DEIR) for the reconfiguration of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was held Saturday, June 6th at the Flight Path Learning Center at LAX.
Mike Doucette, chief of airport planning, conducted the presentation of the project and answered questions from the audience.
The Bradley West Project involves the modernization of the terminal to improve customer service and provide contact gates for the aircraft to minimize the transfer of passengers to buses from the aircraft to the gates.
Doucette said that the EIR process is about determining potential significant impacts, if any, which may result from the proposed project, including traffic, air quality, noise, surface water quality and biological resources.
Doucette said that the plan is to have the final EIR by the end of the year, beginning construction on the north concourse in January, with a completion date of January 2012. The south concourse would be finished by September/October 2012. The main core building behind Bradley Terminal would be completed by April 2013.
BRADLEY WEST PROJECT —
The existing terminal is approximately one million square feet, and the Bradley West project plans to add one million square feet, which would wind up being about an additional 700,000 to 800,000 square feet once completed, said Doucette.
This project is the third part of the bigger LAX Master Plan.
The first project was the South Airfield project, which moved the runway 55 feet to the south.
The second project was the Crossfield Taxiway Program which is currently underway and began last month. It facilitates movement of some of the Group VI aircraft, such as the Airbus A380, the Boeing B747-8 and the Boeing 787 from the north side to the south side, and includes “remain overnight” aircraft parking.
The Bradley West project includes substantial improvements related to the concourses and central core area of Bradley Terminal. Key elements include construction of new north and south concourses just west of the existing concourses, which would be demolished.
The new concourses would provide larger hold rooms, improved and expanded concessions, airline lounges, passenger corridors and administrative offices.
The project includes construction of nine aircraft gates and associated loading bridge and apron areas along the west side of the new concourses.
Other improvements include relocation and consolidation of existing aircraft gates along the east side of the Bradley Terminal, in conjunction with the demolition of the existing concourses, and ten new aircraft gates, associated loading bridges and apron areas would be constructed along the east side of the new concourses to replace the 12 aircraft gates that currently exist at the terminal.
The existing U.S. Customs and Border Protection areas within the central core of the terminal would be renovated, improved and enlarged.
Construction of secure/sterile passenger corridors (areas allowing only passengers that have gone through security clearance and are subject to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) or airline security requirements) between Terminals 3 and 4 and the Bradley Terminal would take place, connecting them to facilitate passenger access.
Existing Taxiways S and Q, currently located in the area proposed for the new concourse and/or gates would be relocated westward.
PUBLIC COMMENT —
A primary concern was that this project would in some way extend the footprint of the airport and make it easier to extend the northern runway into the Westchester business community.
Doucette said that a NASA study is still underway to determine the future of the northern runway and that this project in no way impacts the community.
He said that this project was built with the possible alternative that the northern runway might be moved to the south. Even if the runway is moved to the north, he said that no property would be taken.
Another concern was about construction staging parking on Westchester Parkway. The EIR includes this area for construction/ employee parking but public comments at a previous meeting strongly opposed that possibility.
Denny Schneider, president of ARSAC (Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion), said that Los Angeles World Airports officials had assured him that this northernmost parking lot on Westchester Parkway would disappear from the final EIR, and he asked if any construction analysis had been done with the understanding that no parking lot would be located there.
Doucette said that as a result of the project’s Notice of Preparation, which is the basic start of the EIR process, the site was added into the analysis, but public comments at a previous meeting had been noted about opposition to using that as construction parking.
Other construction parking sites had been studied, including the Continental City site; La Cienega Boulevard between Imperial Highway and Aviation Boulevard; and an additional site along the west end of the airport.
TRAFFIC IMPACTS —
Regarding traffic impacts, under CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), four areas were considered significant. Two of the areas can be mitigated and two can not, said Doucette.
Imperial Highway/Main Street and Imperial Highway/Pershing Drive, primary delivery routes for materials, can be mitigated and Doucette said officials are currently working on these plans.
Century Boulevard/La Cienega Boulevard and Sepulveda Boulevard and Manchester Avenue can not be mitigated during construction, he said.
Some on-airport intersections also have impacts: The upper level of Terminal 1; the lower level of Terminal 7; and the lower level of the Bradley Terminal would be impacted, said Doucette.
AIR QUALITY IMPACTS —
“There are air quality impacts from the project, but we have a very robust mitigation program for that,” Doucette said. “There are also minor climate change impacts and impacts on biological resources, but not on endangered resources or species.”
PASSENGER CONSIDERATIONS —
One individual asked if there would be a passenger increase with the project.
Ultimately, passenger levels would get back to the same amount of traffic, with slight changes to the time of day that passengers would come to the building, said Doucette.
The project does have a minor impact on passenger arrival, and the focus is to take existing activity such as remote aircraft parking near Pershing Drive and busing of passengers to the terminal away, and improve interaction with aircraft that are able to arrive at new gates, he said. The passenger level would remain the same.
“The airport is a proprietary department and is financially independent from the City of Los Angeles. Funding is from bonds that are sold; some federal grants; from the passenger facility charge; and some increases in operating costs to the airlines,” said Doucette, in response to questions about spending taxpayer money on the project.
Nan Schneider voiced concern that there was not enough square footage in the passenger holding areas, considering the ability of the Airbus A380 to hold 800 passengers.
She said there is always the possibility that the airlines would increase the number of passengers and that issue should be planned for in advance.
Doucette said that an extensive analysis had been done, and that these aircraft typically carry approximately 450 passengers, with more business and first class passengers.
He said that the hold areas had been upsized from the accepted planning standard with 6,000 to 7,000 square feet, to seat 80 percent of the passengers, and that typically, people are also at concession stands or in the first class lounges.
The hold areas are 20 percent larger than industry standards, and the A380 has a lot of flights to Asia, which tend to be very long-haul flights of ten, 12 and 14 hours, Doucette said.
Robert Acherman, vice president of ARSAC, suggested that the former Delta Airlines parking garage on Century Boulevard be utilized for construction parking, since the I-405 (San Diego Freeway) exits to the I-105 (Century Freeway) at LAX.
He also expressed concern over sufficient room in the holding areas, saying that there’s never enough room in them and that the architect had considered a larger version of the A380.
One speaker said he fully supports this project and said he was sure that construction parking could be worked out on Pershing Drive.
Danna Cope, a member of the LAX Area Advisory Committee and ARSAC, said that a Qantas representative told her the airline was certified to fly an A380 with 754 passengers into LAX, and Cope was concerned if the terminal could handle the load, commenting that the project is a lot of money to spend for that one aircraft.
She also said officials need to inform the community when runways are closed for construction work.
Denny Schneider asked that notices for the next public hearing be mailed out on postcards rather than a lengthy letter. He said that a very small audience attended both this meeting and the first meeting on Wednesday, June 3rd.
All public comments on the draft EIR must be received by 5 p.m., Monday, June 22nd.
Public comments can be e-mailed to: firstname.lastname@example.org/.
Written comments can be mailed to: Los Angeles World Airports, Facilities Planning Division, Attn: Dennis Quilliam, 7301 World Way West, 3rd Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90045.
The complete draft EIR for the Bradley West Project is available online: “Projects — Publications” at www.ourlax.org/.
Local libraries also have the draft EIR available for review.