AIMING HIGH Los Angeles mayor has plans to reconfigure airport.

Two major U.S. airports have unveiled plans for new terminals this month, both with security in mind. Los Angeles International Airport would undergo a major reconfiguration, while Atlanta’s Hartsfield International Airport has a $982-million new terminal under design.

Eyeing a construction start late next year, L.A. Mayor James K. Hahn (D) hopes to fast-track environmental review of his $9-billion, security-centered proposal to overhaul LAX. Hahn’s aggressive timetable, which would kick off a phased 11-year construction program next year, faces some significant opposition.

In Atlanta, a conceptual design unveiled July 22 for a new 960,000-sq-ft international 10-gate terminal would take checked baggage through 11 screening machines in a 65,000-sq-ft basement, says Jeff Moak, program element manager for International Aviation Consultants, the multifirm program manager. "We’re currently working under old Transportation Security Administration security guidelines," he notes. "They’re supposed to release new ones by fall 2003. We’ll try to incorporate the new guidelines into the design."

Atlanta unveils a modern terminal design

Part of the airport’s $5.4-billion expansion program, the five-story terminal, scheduled to have eight gates open in 2006, will allow international travelers to go through customs and reclaim bags without having to go to the existing terminal. An initial $22.8-million utilities contract will go to bid by this fall. Designed by a team led by architect Leo A Daly and including Gensler and Stevens & Wilkinson as consultants, the terminal will feature integrated artwork, native materials and green building technology. The firms have the good fortune of beginning $80 million in new design well after 9/11.

Unveiled July 9, Hahn’s LAX proposal also reflects post-9/11 security concerns. The plan caps annual passenger traffic at 78.9 million and cargo at 3.1 million tons. It would also mandate project labor agreements, Hahn says.

A key component of the reconfiguration is restricting vehicle access by moving passenger pickup and drop-off from the center of the airport to a ground transportation center near the entrance with eight 1,400-ft-long curbs and a 7,500-space parking structure. An automated people mover would connect to a new 6.5-million-sq-ft terminal complex.

The new facility would replace the existing 4-million-sq-ft terminal. Parking structures would be demolished to make room. An intermodal center at the southeast corner of LAX would link light rail and buses to 14,600 more parking spaces.


Hahn contends these changes would make the airport less vulnerable to terrorists by removing most vehicles from the terminal area and by enabling the latest screening technology. The Star Alliance, a group of domestic and international carriers, backs the proposal. But the Los Angeles Airlines Airport Affairs Committee is urging Hahn to reconsider.

Citing concerns raised by a RAND Corp. report she commissioned, Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.) has stated that Hahn’s plan does not "respond to the recommendations the report made for cost-effective security improvements." The report says security would increase from limiting passenger capacity, but not from "those parts that are more expensive, such as reconfiguring the terminal, parking and ground transportation."

The reconfiguration could limit damage from a vehicle bomb, but not from small bombs, the report says, and could lengthen airport shutdown. It would "increase the area that would need to be secured against possible terrorist attack," and the people mover would be "a tempting target for terrorists."