L.A. Settles Suit, Scraps Airport Plans

The city announced Thursday it is scrapping most of its $11 billion modernization plan for Los Angeles International Airport under a settlement with neighboring cities that sued.

Under the tentative settlement, the airport would also limit passenger growth and pay millions of dollars to soundproof nearby homes and reduce traffic congestion.

The city had spent $150 million designing the LAX Master Plan, which was approved by the City Council last year. Under the settlement, most of that will be reconsidered with new input from the airlines and neighbors.

"What we sought in this consensus and settlement was modernization without expansion, safety and security, regionalization, environmental mitigation and more inclusive planning with our neighbors," said Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, who opposed the old master plan and brokered the settlement.

It could be 2007 before a new plan is released, officials said.

The portions of the old plan put on hold under the deal include: rebuilding some runways, constructing new terminals, building a central check-in facility, and adding people movers and thousands of new parking spaces.

The city also agreed to an annual passenger limit of 75 million, up from a cap of 62 million this year. If it hits the new cap by 2010, the airport would begin to reduce its number of gates.

In return, the airport would be able to start a $300 million rebuilding of two southern runways next year to prevent close calls between aircraft. It also could install bomb-detection equipment in its baggage-handling system and begin its first major construction project in decades - a $410 million upgrade of the aging Tom Bradley International Terminal.

Opponents of the old plan praised the settlement.

"It took 10 years of walking the pavement, attending meetings, educating the public and politicians ... and it finally paid off," said Jennifer Dakoske Koslu, president of the Alliance for a Regional Solution to Airport Congestion.

The deal still requires approval by the residents' group, the county, the Federal Aviation Administration and the cities of Los Angeles, Culver City, El Segundo and Inglewood.

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