$30 billion overhaul intended to address traffic and terminal access problems
Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is set to undergo a $30 billion improvement program in a bid to revamp the airport’s reputation for congestion and traveler inconvenience. As the fifth busiest airport in the world, LAX has a well-known reputation for bad traffic and difficulty getting in and out of terminals. The airport, however, has launched a massive overhaul of its terminals and transportation infrastructure in and around the airport.
One of the centerpieces of the airport’s $5.5 billion Landside Access Modernization Program (LAMP) is the Automated People Mover (APM). The APM will enhance the traveler experience and provide guests with time-certain access to terminals, as well as a long-awaited connection to the regional transportation system. The 30-year, $4.9 billion contract for the APM was the largest ever awarded in the City of Los Angeles’ history and the first Public Private Partnership (P3) contract at LAX. LAX Integrated Express Solutions (LINXS) was the joint venture selected to design, build, finance, operate, and maintain the project.
Construction began in March 2019, and the APM is expected to be operational in 2023. Pre-construction activities, such as utility relocations, geotechnical investigations, and surveying, began in 2018, and major construction activities are ongoing both inside and outside the Central Terminal Area (CTA). The electric train system features a 2.25-mile elevated guideway with six stations in total, three inside the CTA and three outside. The nine trains will run on the guideway during peak hours (9 a.m. to 11 p.m.), each with four cars, and be capable of carrying up to 50 passengers and their luggage, for a total of 200 passengers per train. Train speed will top out at 47 mph. For easy access, the APM trains will have large, wide doors with level boarding, and each car has 12 seats designated for travelers in need. The APM will be free for all users and will operate 24/7, and it is estimated that the APM will result in 117,000 fewer vehicle miles traveled per day.
Another major component of the LAMP is the Consolidated Rent-A-Car (ConRAC) facility. The facility will consolidate rental car operations currently spread across the surrounding area of LAX into one location conveniently located adjacent to the 405 freeway. The approximately 6.4-million-square-foot facility will house more than 18,000 rental car vehicles, including ready/return, idle storage, and employee parking spaces. The facility broke ground in September 2019 and topped off in concrete in July 2021. Scheduled to open in 2023, the ConRAC facility will provide a direct connection to LAX’s APM train system, eliminating more than 3,200 daily rental car shuttle trips on the surrounding streets and into and out of the CTA.
The Terminal Vertical Cores, which are essentially new front doors to terminals at LAX, are part of other terminal modernization projects. American Airlines is building a core between Terminals 4 and 5, two cores are being built at Terminals 2 and 3 as part of Delta Air Lines’ modernization, and Southwest Airlines has constructed the first core to open, located at the west end of Terminal 1. LAX is building three cores – at Tom Bradley International Terminal, between Terminals 5 and 6 (Terminal 5.5), and at Terminal 7 – with $490 million of construction. In addition to providing vertical circulation and connection to the APM system, these cores also provide space that can be used for offices, baggage claims and restrooms.