By Art Marroquin
Saying they hope to build a facility that tourists find welcoming, the Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners called for bids Monday to find an architect to design the new Midfield Concourse and an expanded Tom Bradley International Terminal.
Set for completion in January 2012, the $1.2 billion Midfield Concourse would hold eight to 10 new gates capable of handling mega- size aircraft, such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787.
An underground walkway equipped with a so-called people mover would connect the new facility to the Bradley terminal.
"The tunnel and the design of the midfield terminal must be done in a way that is not just visually appealing but that lets the traveler feel like they have 'made it' once they get off the plane and won't have to go through another onerous journey just to get to the Bradley terminal," Airport Commissioner Fernando Torres-Gil said.
About $11 million worth of environmental and engineering studies are pending for the Midfield Concourse.
Next door, though, a series of problems has caused the Bradley terminal modernization project to run nearly $94 million over budget, according to Dave Shuter, deputy executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that oversees LAX.
The discovery of fuel-contaminated soil, along with underground storm drains and utility lines, has caused costs to soar from the original $629.7 million price tag to more than $723.6 million, Shuter said.
The increased costs came as construction crews either moved or built around the infrastructure, Shuter said.
However, the Bradley terminal project remains on schedule for completion in February 2010, he said.
"This really is very exciting, as you can imagine," Airport Commissioner Valeria Velasco said of the airport projects. "We haven't seen changes like this since 1984."
In other action, the airport commission signed off on a $7.2 million contract on Monday to purchase a house and two apartment buildings containing 33 units as part of an acquisition and relocation program for those who no longer want to live near LAX.
The program allows homeowners living east and northeast of the airport to sell their property to LAWA.
In turn, the airport agency provides relocation to more than 2,500 affected homeowners and tenants.
So far, 463 houses and apartment buildings in Manchester Square and in neighborhoods between Airport Boulevard and Bedford Avenue have been acquired since the relocation program began in 2000, according to an airport report. About 106 more homes are scheduled to be acquired.
Separately, the airport commission awarded a $515,900 contract to Orange-
based AMD Construction Group to install triple-paned windows, thicker doors and other soundproofing measures to 50 condominium units near LAX.
Soundproofing modifications were approved for 36 condo units at Manitoba West, three units at Manitoba Manor, 11 units at Villas Del Rey and one unit at Cross Creek Village, according to an airport report.