After nearly three decades, a pedestrian tunnel allowing arriving passengers to reach baggage claim at Los Angeles International Airport’s Terminal 6 has reopened.

Until recently, both arriving and departing passengers had to make their way past each other within the same boarding gate concourses, and airport officials believe the tunnel’s reopening will significantly reduce congestion on the departures level.

The tunnel was closed nearly 30 years ago after the connector between the concourse and the curbside terminal was built. The underground connector tunnel used to take passengers under the airfield when LAX’s concourses were stand-alone satellites, and it had since been used for offices and storage space.

Due to the reopening, airport officials said arriving passengers will now have a clearer pathway to baggage claim and ground transportation, and have the chance to view decorative mosaic tile that lines the tunnel wall.

Commissioned in 1961 and installed at the direction of noted interior designer and architect Charles D. Kratka, the mosaic depicts a journey across the United States. These decorative tiles are also installed in the tunnels at Terminals 3 and 4 and are considered among Kratka’s best-known Modernist works, officials said.

The tunnel reopening comes as a major renovation of Terminal 6 is underway. Construction began in the summer of 2010 and is scheduled for completion by summer 2012. The project will completely remodel and modernize the terminal and will include major upgrades to the ticketing lobby, boarding gates, security screening, U.S. Customs facilities and the baggage claim area, airport officials said. In addition, a new in-line baggage screening system will be installed.

The terminal project is part of a $4.11-billion overall capital improvement program underway at LAX, generating nearly 40,000 local jobs.

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