Airport wants to build a transit-connected Terminal 9 east of Sepulveda in time for the 2028 Olympics

By Joe Piasecki and Gary Walker

A conceptual view of Terminal 9, including the Automated People Mover and Sepulveda pedestrian bridge

After breaking ground in March on its Automated People Mover, the elevated electric loop train that will connect flight terminals to Metro light rail service by 2023, LAX now hopes to build an additional passenger terminal east of Sepulveda Boulevard in time for the 2028 Summer Olympics.

The new Terminal 9 would include as many as 12 gates for large planes making international flights and an expansive underground international arrivals area, according to a development study that LAX officials made public last week. Alternatively, it could accommodate as many as 19 gates for domestic flights. The space is currently occupied by various hangars and maintenance facilities, as well as a regional carrier concourse.

In addition to its own Automated People Mover stop, Terminal 9 would connect to the central terminal area via a pedestrian footbridge over to Sepulveda to the existing Terminal 7.

West of Sepulveda, LAX would add nine new flight gates adjacent to Terminal 1 (Southwest Airlines) by constructing a new Concourse 0 over what’s presently a terminal-adjacent parking lot.

The changes will require runway adjustments to the north of the terminal but will not move runways closer to Playa del Rey or Westchester, as stipulated by the 2016 settlement agreement among the airport, the city and neighborhood groups.

LAX estimates that as many as 30 million passengers per year will utilize the Automated People Mover, with pickups at each of seven stations every two minutes, for a total end-to-end travel time of about 10 minutes.

Newly announced construction plans are still likely to impact vehicle traffic flow, however, prompting new entrance and exit ramps along Sepulveda to serve Terminal 9 and streamline central terminal entryways and exits.

Denny Schneider, head of the Westchester community group that pushed for the deal to end northward expansion, is optimistic about the project overall but still has concerns about vehicle traffic.

LEFT: The future LAX footprint, looking north along Sepulveda RIGHT: The Automated People Mover will take passengers past the iconic LAX theme building
Images courtesy of Los Angeles World Airports

“All of the work being done will be a significant improvement, given the seemingly unlimited amount of LAX flight numbers and passenger growth that has been happening in recent years, but it will still be inadequate to make LAX convenient,” he said. “When the modernization program at LAX is completed there will be only two issues left: How
do we handle so many additional flights, and how are we going to handle the excessive ground traffic?”

LAX’s neighbors to the south are not happy about additional flight traffic, let alone the airport’s existing quality of life impacts.

“El Segundo has always stood for a balanced airfield, but this project proposal makes an unbalanced airport even more unfairly weighted toward El Segundo,” reads a statement by El Segundo City Manager Greg Carpenter. “El Segundo already has to bear the burden of loud, noisy nighttime cargo flights, but instead of attempting to balance operations between the north and south, the lion’s share of impacts will fall to our residents to bear.”