North Runways at LAX May Be Altered

Airport officials cite safety and air quality concerns in seeking changes that could push flights closer to homes.

The proposal to fix the aging facility is being crafted to replace former Mayor James K. Hahn's controversial $11-billion modernization blueprint. City officials agreed to shelve Hahn's proposal and start over in exchange for a promise by airport-area communities to drop federal and state lawsuits that challenged it.

Hahn's plan proposed moving the inner runway on LAX's north side closer to the terminals, requiring officials to demolish Terminals 1, 2 and 3. The measure, which also would have lengthened both runways, would have cost around $2 billion and taken at least 12 years to implement.

Officials say that is too long to wait to make safety improvements to the north side, adding that the current proposals to move the outer runway north would take only up to four years.

The options included in the presentation to be posted today at are:

* Shifting the outer runway 340 feet north, building a center taxiway, and lengthening the inner runway by 1,415 feet to a total of 11,700 feet. This option would require officials to reconfigure Lincoln Boulevard between Westchester Parkway and Sepulveda Boulevard.

* Moving the inner runway 100 feet south, building a center taxiway and extending both runways. The change would force officials to demolish up to 20 gates where aircraft park, and to rebuild taxiways and service roads.

* Rebuilding the inner runway 100 feet south and installing several S-shaped taxiways in between the two runways. This also would require demolishing up to 20 gates.

* Pushing the outer runway 100 feet north, installing a center taxiway and lengthening the inner runway. After construction, this plan would restrict up to 11 gates at Terminals 2, 3 and the Tom Bradley International Terminal to small aircraft.

Residents say they are concerned that the proposal to move the runway 340 feet north echoes an airport expansion plan by former Mayor Richard Riordan that was despised by the community.

"The airport hasn't been very imaginative," said Denny Schneider, president of the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion, a residents group that sued the city over Hahn's plan. "All they're doing is rehashing the old stuff."

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