The completion of the $333 million South Airfield Improvement Project at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) was announced Tuesday, June 24th, at LAX by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Los Angeles City Council members Bill Rosendahl (11th District), Janice Hahn (15th District) and FAA director of national runway safety Wes Timmons.

The dual phase $333 million South Airfield Improvement Project reconstructed and reconfigured the South Runway in order to help improve airfield safety and reduce the number of runway incursions, according to Darryl Ryan, press deputy for Villaraigosa.

Phase One of the project, which was completed in April last year, moved the 11,095-foot-long, 200-foot-wide South Runway 55 feet south of its original location.

Phase Two, completed on June 24th, built a 10,000-foot-long, 75-foot-wide Centerline Taxiway between Runway 25 left and Runway 25 right, and will serve as a buffer zone for airplanes maneuvering between the southern runways, said Ryan. Phase Two represented $83 million of the $333 million.

Ryan said the new modifications and additions to LAX’s South Airfield will help improve airfield safety, reduce the number of runway incursions, improve LAX’s ability to efficiently handle new large aircraft and decrease aircraft idling times, thereby reducing the amount of harm- ful pollutants emitted into the air.

Rosendahl told The Argonaut that “the South Airfield should serve as our model for working with the community to move forward on LAX modernization. This is a tremendous victory for us, and is the first step in a process that will completely change the face of our airport.

“As I have said before, modernize it, don’t expand it, and regionalize it. We are now well on our way to a modern LAX.”

Denny Schneider, president of the Alliance for Regional Solution to Airport Congestion (ARSAC) said that although the two south runways have been completed and the central taxiway is nearly complete, there is still construction on the taxiway/ runway intersections which is closing south runways intermittently.

“The sad thing is that the South Airfield Project didn’t change some of the most critical high-speed turnoffs from the runways and will likely continue to contribute to our incursion count,” Schneider said. “Note that even with less traffic on the south, they’ve still had more south runway incursions during the past year than the ones that occurred on the north with far more publicity.”

Four runway incursions occurred between January 1st and June 17th — twice on the north runway and twice on the south runway — according to documentation by Raymond Jack, airport manager II.

In 2007, five incursions on the north runway and seven on the south runway occurred from January1st to December 26th.