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Airport commissioners unanimously approved construction of the northern half of a midfield concourse west of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, which is undergoing its own expansion and renovation.
Commissioners also certified the project's environmental impact report and approved a three-year, $50-million contract for Skanska and W.E. O'Neil. The joint venture will provide pre-construction services and construction management.
The project will add gates for the largest jetliners in service and eventually eliminate the airport's remote gates that require passengers to deplane into the open and take buses to the Bradley's immigration, customs and baggage claim areas.
"We need more wide-body contact gates. We just can't deliver them fast enough," said Gina Marie Lindsey, the executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX.
Although plans for the new concourse include a tunnel to the Bradley for international travelers, some passengers will still have to be bused to other terminals until a proposed people-mover is built.
Airport officials say, however, that bus trips from the new concourse will be much shorter than those from the remote gates, which are almost 1 1/2 miles west of the Bradley.
There were proposals for a bridge to link the midfield concourse to the Bradley, but airport officials said the idea was dropped because of the tail height of the Airbus A380, one of the largest jetliners in the world.
Plans for the northern wing include 11 gates, taxiways, aircraft aprons, service roads, utilities and a people-mover station. A construction contract is scheduled to be awarded in January 2015.
The cost of the project's southern section, which is still being planned, has not been determined. When both parts are completed, the concourse will have room for a variety of concessions and up to 29 aircraft gates.
The midfield concourse is part of the multibillion-dollar expansion and modernization of LAX, which has long received poor marks from the traveling public. A center piece of the effort has been the Bradley terminal with its palatial grand hall and array of upscale shops and restaurants.