By Art Marroquin
Construction hasn't even started, but costs have already increased by more than $12 million to examine the future site of a new concourse at Los Angeles International Airport.
The Board of Airport Commissioners on Monday signed off on a series of contract amendments that call for environmental reviews and underground mapping for the future site of the Midfield Concourse, a $1.2billion construction project set for completion in January 2012.
About $11 million will be spent determining whether fuel tanks, asbestos, lead and other environmental hazards lie beneath the proposed site, just west of the Tom Bradley International Terminal, according to Jim Ritchie, deputy executive director of long-range planning for Los Angeles World Airports, the city agency that operates
"We don't really know what's under there," Ritchie said. "There could be a lot of surprises out there."
The Los Angeles City Council agreed in August to build eight to 10 new contact gates at the Midfield Concourse, which could eventually be expanded to hold up to 40 gates.
The funds approved by the airport commission on Monday are in addition to nearly $3 million previously approved for environmental abatement work on the site, to be completed by engineering firms Tetra-Tech of Pasadena, Long Beach-based Earth Tech and Camp, Dresser and McKee, based in Cambridge, Mass.
In a related action, the airport commission agreed to spend $1.7 million to draw up an underground map of the site where the Midfield Concourse will be built.
"It sounds like a huge amount of money just laying out a map," Airport Commissioner Walter Zifkin said.
The effort is to determine whether there are any structures - such as an outdated runway - below ground, as was the case during construction of the airport's south runway relocation project, according to David Shuter, deputy executive director of project and facilities development services at LAX.
Earlier this year, construction crews uncovered a 1940s-era runway during the south airfield improvement project that eventually drove up costs for that project.
New Midfield Concourse would cater to A380s, 787s
Focus on international growth
LAX is expected to be the first U.S. destination of an A380 passenger flight next year.
The Los Angeles Airport Commission is expected today to award a multimillion-dollar contract to overhaul the aging Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.