Los Angeles City and federal aviation officials reopened Runway 25 Left/7 Right on the south side of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) Monday, April 2nd.

The South Runway Improvement Project, which began in July, was completed on time and 5.7 percent under budget, officials said.

Construction will now begin on a center taxiway to run parallel and between the two south runways, followed by the construction of taxiways linking the two runways to the new center taxiway.

Completion of the new $250-million runway is part of the overall $333-million South Airfield Improvement Program, which seeks to improve airfield safety by reducing the number and severity of runway ìincursionsî that occur at LAX.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines runway incursions as any occurrence at an airport involving an aircraft, vehicle or object on the ground that creates a collision hazard or results in a loss of separation with an aircraft taking off, landing or intending to take off or land.

LAX experienced the highest number of runway incursions of any U.S. commercial airport from 2000 to 2003, with the majority occurring on the south airfield, airport officials said.

The airport experienced eight runway incursions last year, of which two were classified by the FAA as serious. This year, the airport has experienced two runway incursions, but neither was classified as serious by the FAA.

ìLos Angeles International Airport is the U.S. West Coastís gateway to the world,î Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said. ìOpening Runway 25 Left, as well as the future completion of the South Airfield Improvement Program, will benefit the traveling public with improved airfield safety and reduced aircraft taxi and idle item ó thereby reducing harmful emissions into the air.

ìIn addition, LAX will be better able to efficiently handle the next generation of aircraft, such as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 787 Dreamliner, that are coming into service in the near future.î

Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl added, ìToday we complete the first phase of modernizing LAX by taking a giant step towards improving the efficiency and safety of runway operations.

ìThis project is a great example of our partnership with the surrounding community, and demonstrates that we can and should work with local residents as we continue to modernize our airport.î

During the south runway project, the former runway 25 Left was demolished, relocated 55 feet south, and reconstructed to the same 11,095-foot length and 200-foot width as the previous runway.

Construction also included the relocation and replacement of all navigational and visual aids, as well as utilities, lighting, signage, grading and drainage.

The runway portion of the overall South Airfield Improvement Program cost about $250 million, or 5.7 percent under the $265 million budgeted for the runway, airport officials said.

Funding for the entire South Airfield project comes from landing fees, $100 million in FAA airport investment funds, airport operating revenues and capital investment funds.

Construction of the center taxiway parallel and between the two south runways, and construction of the taxiways linking the two runways to the new center taxiway, will allow planes to move onto a center taxiway and then hold until it is clear to cross the adjacent runway and continue to its assigned terminal gate, officials said.

The next phases of the South Airfield Improvement Program are expected to take 18 months to complete, officials said.

In a joint study with Los Angeles World Airports, the FAA and NASA Ames Research Centerís FutureFlight Central, air traffic controllers found that the center taxiway offered an effective solution to the primary cause of the most severe types of runway incursions experienced at LAX.

The South Airfield Improvement Program is the first of the LAX Master Plan ìgreen-lightedî projects.

Los Angeles World Airports has developed several measures to minimize construction impacts during the project, including:

n recycling 100 percent of all the materials from the old runway into the new runway and taxiway;

n placing concrete mixers and other equipment on-airport, thus reducing the number of trips service vehicles must take to and from the construction site;

n designating specific routes that service vehicles must use when traveling to and from the site;

n retrofitting equipment and machinery to reduce noise and emissions; and

n continually dampening the work area to reduce dust.

During the demolition phase, workers had to excavate a 1,000-foot length of the original runway which dated back to the 1950s and 1960s when jet air service first began at LAX, officials said. The discovery and removal of the old runway set the construction schedule back 23 days, but the days were made up by workers accelerating other parts of the project.

The FAA reported that while Runway 25L was under construction, air traffic controllers and airlines were able to maintain relatively normal flight schedules using the two northern runways and the remaining southern runway, airport officials said.

Air traffic controllers at LAX report that only 0.4 percent of all flights into and out of LAX were delayed due to the runway closure.