Construction is now underway on the $1.55 billion modernization of the Tom Bradley International Terminal at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), touted as the city’s largest public works project that will create a world-class facility for travelers.

City officials, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, City Councilmembers Bill Rosendahl and Janice Hahn, and airport commissioners joined in a ceremony February 22nd to break ground on the long-awaited Bradley West Project.

The modernization project is designed to offer high quality amenities for passengers at the airport and continue its role as an international gateway in the 21st century. City officials noted that 4,000 jobs will be created with the project over the next four years.

“Today marks another milestone in our effort to modernize the hub of Southern California’s air transportation system and restore it to the premier international gateway the airlines and our customers need and the City of Angels deserves,” said Villaraigosa, who added that the project is expected be completed around the time he leaves office in 2013.

“By modernizing the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX, we will provide better service for passengers from around the world.”

The upgrade of the Bradley Terminal is part of the overall LAX modernization, officials said. The last major capital investment at the airport was the construction of the current Tom Bradley International Terminal prior to the Los Angeles Olympics in 1984.

“When Mayor Villaraigosa and I brokered the LAX legal settlement agreement, this is exactly what we envisioned; that the airport would work hand-in-hand with its neighbors to bring about real progress on modernizing LAX,” said Rosendahl, referring to a lawsuit settlement on the master plan in 2006.

“This groundbreaking is a great victory for that process, for the LAX community, and for our city. It signals that consensus and cooperation are alive and well at LAX.”

Los Angeles World Airports Executive Director Gina Marie Lindsey added, “Today’s groundbreaking commemorates the years of planning and the significant work ahead to build international facilities worthy of the LAX name.

“A world of international travelers and the airlines that serve them have now come a giant step closer to the delivery of one of America’s premier international gateways.”

The Bradley West Project features approximately 1.25 million square feet of new building area, including food/beverage and retail concessions, new premium lounge space, enlarged federal inspection/Customs and Border Protection facilities and other passenger amenities. In addition, the new concourses will contain 15 new boarding gates and enlarged seating/holdroom areas to accommodate new-generation aircraft such as the Airbus A380.

Funding for the project comes from LAX’s operating revenues, fees from airlines, passenger facility charges and airport revenue bonds. No monies from the city’s general fund will be used.

The new improvements are scheduled for completion in

December 2012.