City Council goes forward with LAX modernization plans

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LAX

Los Angeles International Airport
(Photo credit: LAX/LAWA)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The City Council pressed forward on a $4.8 billion plan to expand and modernize LAX today, ignoring threats of litigation from a group fighting the proposed move of a north airfield 260 feet closer to residents.

The City Council voted 10-3 to give final approval on the plan, formally signing off on its prior approval of the project in April.

Council members Bill Rosendahl, Dennis Zine and Jan Perry cast the dissenting votes.

“We’re on a collision course, and I don’t like collisions,” Rosendahl said, asking his colleagues to delay today’s vote on the project’s official ordinance.

“I don’t want lawsuits. I do not want to shut down modernization,” he said, referring to his support of other parts of project that does not involve expanding the north airfield.

Before the vote, Rosendahl said airport officials should have responded to requests for mediation made by the Alliance for a Regional Solution for Airport Congestion, a community group that appealed the project.

“Why have you not responded to their official letter saying, sit down and let’s have mediation, or we will sue — which is implied when you get letters like this?” he said.

Representatives of the airport said they could not discuss their reasons because the airport commission had discussed the matter in closed session.

A union representing airport workers, SEIU United Service Workers West, also submitted a letter this week asking for more environmental review of the project.

The majority of the council appeared unmoved by Rosendahl’s last ditch efforts today.

“This has been thoroughly discussed,” Councilman Tom LaBonge said, adding that the plan is a “positive approach” for the region.

Airport officials have said that the project would increase safety, create jobs and accommodate jumbo jets.

By putting a taxi lane between the northern airfield’s two runways, such large aircraft as Airbus 380s that are now restricted to southern runways could be accommodated, according to airport officials.

Opponents of the project are skeptical of airport officials’ claim that it would make the north runways safer, saying it is a ploy to approve a project that would only serve to draw more traffic to Los Angeles International Airport at the expense of a regional approach to managing the city’s various airports.

Los Angeles owns Ontario International Airport, which has seen a sharp decline in flights, and Van Nuys Airport. The City of Ontario is suing Los Angeles, saying the Ontario airport has been mismanaged by the city. The lawsuit cut short talks to transfer ownership of the airport back to Ontario.

The plans and environmental findings approved by the City Council also set the stage for the demolition of Terminals 1, 2 and 3; construction of a new ground transportation center at Manchester Square near Century Boulevard and the San Diego (405) Freeway; a new automated people mover that would connect passengers between the ground transportation center and the terminals; and road improvements.

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