LA City Council Approves Controversial LAX Runway Move

Residents fear the runway will worsen air pollution and traffic in the area surrounding the airport.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
    The L.A. City Council was set to vote Tuesday, April 30, 2013, on a controversial proposal to move a runway closer to nearby homes.

    The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a plan to improve Los Angeles International Airport that includes the controversial step of moving a runway closer to neighboring homes.

    The 10-3 vote followed a fiery meeting that was interrupted at points by chanting, cheers and jeers.

    Airport officials argued that the change will make the runways safer and allow for more large aircraft to land at LAX. Residents around the airport have long campaigned against the runway expansion, saying it will worsen air pollution and traffic, and will not make the runways substantially safer.

    City councilman and mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti opposed the runway move. He sent out a media statement on Tuesday morning, hours before the vote, using the occasion to blast his mayoral race opponent, City Controller Wendy Greuel.

    "Today, Eric Garcetti will vote against moving the North Runway at LAX in the LA City Council," the statement said. "Meanwhile, Wendy Greuel has not revealed her position on this critical issue facing Los Angeles."

    An official with the Greuel campaign told NBC4 the candidate wanted to examine the issue more closely.

    Several documents -- including the project's environmental impact report, details of residents' and neighborhood groups' concerns and airport arguments in favor of the project -- were available for viewing on the Los Angeles City Clerk's website.

    Airport officials said moving the northern-most runway 260 feet away from the central terminals will allow for a taxiway to be built between the two runways there. That will solve a major operational problem on the parallel runways, where a 1991 runway crash killed 34 people.

    However, opponents claimed in a letter to the City Council that the chance of a crash there is so low that a decrease in the possibility will be negligible.

    The new taxiway will also allow 747s and Airbus 380s to use the northern two runways during good weather, airport officials said.

    The large planes are usually restricted to the southern two runways now. The plan envisions 153 total gates at LAX, with new wings added to Terminal 3 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal.

    A new passenger concourse at the airport's western end will be connected via passenger tunnels to the Bradley Terminal. East of Terminal 1, a new Terminal Zero will be built on the current Park One site.

    The 96th Street entrance will be realigned, and Lincoln Boulevard will be relocated north, closer to Westchester Parkway. A consolidated rental car facility and parking lot will be built east of the airport, in a subdivision now mostly owned by LAX.

    A new terminal for buses and vans serving the airport will be built on 96th Street, and a “people-mover” system will link the new ground transport terminals with all nine airplane terminals.

    City News Service contributed to this report.

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