The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners has certified the final environmental impact report (EIR) and adopted other related documents for the Southside Airfield Improvement Project at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The board further recommended that the Los Angeles City Council approve the project, which would include moving the LAX southernmost runway approximately 55 feet south to improve safety by providing for a new center taxiway, airport officials said.

The project-specific EIR is the first such project to come out of the LAX master plan approved in December 2004 by the Los Angeles City Council.

Each project contained in the LAX master plan must have its own EIR prepared and approved.

The South Airfield Improvement Project consists of moving LAX Runway 7R/25L approximately 55 feet south of its present location and constructing a new parallel taxiway between the airport’s two south airfield runways.

Airport officials say the relocation of the runway and the addition of the taxiway are critical to improving airfield safety and reducing the potential for runway incursions on the south airfield.

LAX and Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials said they have been concerned in recent years about the persistent number of runway incursions of varying severity.

While no accidents between aircraft landing or departing LAX have occurred on the South Runway Complex, officials determined that the Southside project offered the best physical solution to reduce the risk of runway incursions.

It is the first major construction project approved by the Airport Commissioners since a proposed legal settlement addressing the modernization of Los Angeles International Airport was announced December 1st by Los Angeles World Airports (the City of Los Angeles agency that manages city airports), neighboring cities, a Westchester-Playa del Rey community group and the County of Los Angeles.

In addition to safety considerations, the project is designed to provide for flight operations by the new Airbus A-380, which some international air carriers expect to put in service at LAX in 2007.

The Board of Airport Commissioners is expected to award the construction contract for the runway project at the board’s next meeting, scheduled for Monday, December 19th.

Construction is expected to begin in the spring and take 26 months.