With a budget topping $4 billion, the Los Angeles International Airport's multi-year modernization is among the largest public-works projects in the city's long history. The program's sheer size, its regional and national importance and the amount of work already completed contributed to the decision by ENR California to select Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), the municipal agency that oversees the massive construction drive, as Owner of the Year 2012.

The nearly 40,000 construction and non-construction jobs the LAX program has already created or is projected to produce, according to a Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County study, also influenced the selection. The EDC also predicts that the modernization will inject $6.89 billion into the region's construction, manufacturing, real estate, finance, insurance and retail industries.

The Owner of the Year selection is based on several criteria, including volume of work in a region; economic, social and environmental success; high standards for worker safety; innovative construction techniques; and use of progressive approaches to carry out projects.

LAWA officials "recognized and addressed the great opportunity to improve the passenger experience at LAX," says Curtis Fentress, principal at Fentress Architects, which is in charge of design of the $1.7-billion Tom Bradley West International Terminal expansion, the largest element of the overall LAX modernization.

LAWA owns and operates three airports: LAX, Ontario and Van Nuys. The LAX program's financing comes from airport operating revenue, capital funds, passenger facility charges, bonds, airline funds for their own facilities and Transportation Security Administration and Federal Aviation Administration grants.

LAX is the sixth-busiest airport in the world and third-busiest in the U.S., handling more than 565 daily flights to 81 domestic cities and more than 1,000 weekly nonstop flights to 66 international destinations on more than 75 air carriers. It ranks 13th in the world in air-cargo tonnage handled. In 2010, LAX served more than 59 million passengers, processed more than 1.9 million tons of air cargo valued at nearly $84 billion and handled 575,835 aircraft landings and takeoffs.

Progress Report

Since the modernization program started in earnest in 2006, seven major projects have been finished and seven more are under way. Completed projects include a new $175-million Taxilane S, which was finished last year. Five projects were completed in 2010, led by the $737-million Tom Bradley International Terminal (TBIT) modernization.

Other projects wrapped up in 2010 were: a $13.9-million airport response coordination center; the $13.5-million aircraft rescue and firefighting station; the $12.3-million Theme Building renovation; and the $138-million Crossfield Taxiway R. The $333-million South Airfield improvement project was completed in 2008.

The completed projects have garnered a host of industry awards and designations, including: