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LA Council approves agreement clearing way for $5.5B in LAX improvements

FILE: Approval by the Los Angeles City Council clears the way for LAX to proceed with a $5.5 billion modernization plan.
FILE: Approval by the Los Angeles City Council clears the way for LAX to proceed with a $5.5 billion modernization plan.
David McNew/Getty Images

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The Los Angeles City Council approved an agreement Wednesday that clears the way for billions of dollars in improvements at the Los Angeles International Airport.

The step forward with the $5.5 billion modernization plan came after airport officials settled a decade-long dispute with a neighboring community group.

Local residents have long opposed the modernization project because it called for moving a runway to the north, which they said would disturb adjacent neighborhoods.

Under the new agreement announced last week, LAX will not move the runway but will be allowed to add new gates and increase passenger traffic by several million people a year. The agreement also requires LAX to add new safety features to the runway and an air quality monitoring station.

A major component of the modernization plan is the building of a shuttle train, or automated people mover, between the terminal, a rental car facility and a forthcoming Metro Crenshaw line station, finally making the airport accessible by rail.

LAX CEO Deborah Flint, speaking at a KPCC In Person/Milken Institute event Tuesday, said these improvements have been sorely needed for years.

“It’s not about building for the future. It's about solving problems that are inherently fundamental that we need to get solved,” she said.

LAX is currently considering construction bids for the connector train. Metro expects to finish building the Crenshaw/LAX line by 2019.