A public scoping meeting for preparation of a draft environmental impact report (EIR) for reconfiguration of the Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) was held Wednesday, January 14th, at the Flight Path Learning Center at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).

The meeting was held to allow local residents to provide input about their concerns and what they would like addressed in the draft EIR.

Public comments for inclusion into the EIR must be received by officials at Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA, the agency that operates LAX and the city’s other airports) no later than Wednesday, January 28th.

Responses should be sent to Dennis Quilliam, City Planner, at City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports, 7301 World Way West, 3rd floor, Los Angeles, CA 90045.

For more information or to request a copy, call Los Angeles World Airports at (310) 646-7614.

Comments can also be sent to tbitreconfigproject@lawa.org/.

The Notice of Preparation is available at www.OurLAX.org/.

The proposed schedule includes a draft EIR released for public review by the end of March, enabling the public to make further comments on the project. The final EIR is planned for release in the fall, and construction would begin at the end of this year, said Mike Doucette, chief of airport planning.

The planned format for the meeting was a PowerPoint presentation by Doucette, to be followed by attendees gathering at various tables, asking questions of the technical experts of the project, and then filling out individual comment cards with concerns regarding environmental issues about the project.

After the presentation, some audience members said they felt that dividing the audience into groups would keep everyone from hearing all of the information and opted to continue as one group.

“We felt that the planned format of the meeting would have provided a greater opportunity for more people to ask questions,” said Doucette. “We changed the format of the meeting to be responsive to their request to keep the entire group together. In the end, we spent approximately two hours responding to all of their questions.”

Questions included concerns about environmental impacts on the air quality, associated noise, increased traffic congestion and the construction itself.

One attendee suggested pursuing regionalization, a goal sought by many in attendance, by having some air traffic use the city’s LA/Palmdale Regional Airport.

Local resident Nora MacLellan told The Argonaut that in reviewing the map of the LAX property, a section had been carved out for contractor parking for 2,056 vehicles along Westchester Parkway and Falmouth Avenue.

“My concern is that the property would need to be graded and paved, and the traffic to the lot would go through Westchester and Playa del Rey,” said MacLellan.

She also questioned the need for another employee parking lot when a previous project had contractor parking at the east end of the airport property off the Century Freeway (Interstate 105) and employees were shuttled to the job site via buses.

MacLellan questioned if the parking lot was intended for later use either for employee parking or long-term parking for travelers.

Doucette told The Argonaut that “Westchester Parkway was constructed by the airport as ground access mitigation for the approximately four million square feet of development previously entitled.

“Having not contracted any of that proposed development to date, the contractor activity on Westchester Parkway should not provide any significant impacts.”

“That is really what the EIR process is about, to determine impacts, if any, and how significant they are. That’s why the diagram was in the NOP [Notice of Preparation of Draft Environmental Impact Report] and the public scoping process, for people to question and react to.”

In November, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and airport officials unveiled a modernization and reconfiguration plan for Tom Bradley International Terminal, originally built in 1984 in time for the Olympics.

Doucette said the existing terminal is approximately one million square feet, and the plan is to add one million square feet.

Descriptions of the proposed improvements are from the Notice of Preparation.

The Tom Bradley International Terminal reconfiguration proposes the development of new aircraft gates, supporting the airport’s ability to accommodate “next generation aircraft,” such as the Airbus A380, Boeing 787 and Boeing 747-B.

The 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 Tom Bradley International Terminal, in conjunction with the demolition of the existing concourses, and ten new aircraft gates and 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 Tom Bradley International 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 or airline security requirements) between Terminals 3 and 4 and Tom Bradley International Terminal would take place.

Existing Taxiways S and Q, currently located in the area proposed for the new concourse and/or gates would be relocated westward.

The LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal Reconfiguration Project will be tiered from the LAX Master Plan EIR, and will provide project-specific construction information on one of the Master Plan projects previously evaluated at a programmatic level, as well as project-specific changes to greenhouse gas emissions associated with the Tom Bradley International Terminal project, according to the Notice of Preparation.

Potential significant environmental effects that may result from the proposed project include traffic, air quality, noise, surface water quality and biological resources.

This EIR looks at environmental issues, while operational issues were addressed in the Master Plan, said Doucette.

Airport officials said that former “green-light” projects from the LAX Master Plan that had been approved in the legal settlement with Los Angeles World Airports, the City of Los Angeles, other cities and groups — such as the rental car lot and the people mover — may not be included in the renovation of LAX.

One speaker referred to the cumulative impacts of the entire LAX Master Plan, and said that conclusions reached would be false if any other components of the Master Plan don’t take place.