LAX Project Gets Additional $51M
By Art Marroquin, Staff Writer
April 21, 2009
The Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners on Tuesday awarded an additional $51.2 million to Denver-based Fentress Architects to provide more designs for the ongoing modernization of Los Angeles International Airport.
The revised contract, set to expire in May 2015, calls on Fentress to draw up plans for the federal inspection and shopping areas within the expanded Tom Bradley International Terminal. Earlier this year, Fentress unveiled schematics for a new exterior of the Bradley terminal and six new aircraft gates capable of handling super-jumbo jets.
The new facility, dubbed "Bradley West," is expected to be completed by 2014 at a cost of $1.5 billion.
"This takes us all the way to the end of the project, to the ribbon cutting," said Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, the agency that operates LAX.
The project comes as LAX continues to struggle with dwindling passenger volumes, but airport officials said they intend to press ahead.
In the meantime, the International Air Transport Association has expressed concerns about the project's costs and has asked airport officials to openly discuss a variety of funding options.
"Basically, the airlines want a seat at the table and want to provide important feedback about the plans before it's too late," said Steve Lott, a spokesman for IATA, which represents 230 domestic and international airline carriers.
"We've seen expansion projects at other airports where we were not brought in early and we are stuck with the bill for something that doesn't work," Lott said. "We don't want that to happen in L.A."
LAX officials said they hope to sell enough bonds to complete construction of the Bradley West project, along with a new crossfield taxiway and several new elevators and escalators, but additional funds will be needed to complete a series of infrastructure improvements to the airport's other terminals.
To fill the financial gap, LAX officials have signaled their support for a proposed increase of passenger facility fees, which allows the nation's airports to collect up to $4.50 for every airline passenger.
"We cannot complete those other projects without an increase in the user fees," Lindsey said.
Lott warned that hiking passenger facility charges would also increase costs for airlines landing at LAX.
"We shouldn't jump on one option," Lott said. "LAX should look outside the box for funding options before jumping on that."
The four-year contract extension with Fentress comes just one year after the airport commission signed off on a $41.5 million, three-year deal with the firm. Under the deal, Fentress will also design a new central utility plant that will provide an improved heating and cooling system for the airport.
In a related move, the airport commission approved a $10.9 million contract with the Phoenix-based joint venture of Austin Commercial and Walsh to provide pre-construction services for the Bradley West project.
Additionally, the airport commission put out a call for bids for a construction manager to oversee efforts to renovate the federal inspection areas, restrooms, airline lounges and concession areas in the Bradley terminal.
Separately, the airport commission awarded a $5.8 million contract to Santa Fe Springs-based Griffith Co. to build a new aircraft ramp, airfield security fences and emergency exits at the American Airlines maintenance hangar.