In 1984, the new Tom Bradley terminal was unveiled at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), just in time to welcome visitors for the 1984 Summer Olympics. But until Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced an ambitious plan in 2008, this was the last major change made to the sixth busiest airport in the world.
“Today marks a major milestone in our effort to modernize this hub of the region’s transportation system and to restore its status as an international gateway during a challenging era of aviation,” the mayor said.
The $5 billion project consisted of three main components: the Bradley West Reconfiguration Program, the Crossfield Taxiway Project, and the Midfield Satellite Concourse. Mott MacDonald was the lead engineer for the first two of these.
The Bradley West Reconfiguration Program modernized the airport’s signature terminal. “The proposed exterior design celebrates the airport’s proximity to the beach,” the Daily Breeze reported in 2008.
“Curved stainless steel panels give the appearance of waves lapping at the terminal’s rooftop. Large windows and skylights allow natural sunlight to pour into the passenger walkways. Tall, white parabolic arches — similar to those of the iconic Theme Building — are incorporated into a two-level bridge connecting the Bradley terminal to the new midfield terminal.”
The upgrade also included a new in-line baggage screening system, public art, interactive graphics, and streamlined passport control and baggage claim services. Bradley West alone was the biggest public works project in the city’s history.
The Crossfield Taxiway Project widened and strengthened two existing crossfield taxiways immediately west of the Bradley terminal. It required demolishing existing structures, removing deteriorated concrete and asphalt pavement and replacing it with new pavement, installing airfield signage, lighting systems, and pavement markings, and improving storm drains.
In addition, the project added or relocated facilities including taxiways and parking areas, added a new service road and utility corridor, and constructed a new Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Facility.
For each of these projects, Mott MacDonald provided planning and engineering design services for the following:
- Demolition and enabling works
- Surveying and subsurface investigations
- Airfield and tunnel engineering
- Structural design of taxiway and vehicle service road bridges
- Utility plant and utility relocation design
- Civil, structural, mechanical, electrical, communications, security, environmental, life-safety, bid-phase, and design assistance
To minimize environmental impact, the LAX modernization project recycled construction material, placed concrete mixers and other equipment on site to reduce trips, retrofitted construction equipment with emission- and noise-reduction devices, and controlled dust.
In May 2010, a Qantas Airbus A380 weighing more than a million pounds was the first plane to land on the new 3,437-foot Crossfield Taxiway. It was greeted with a water-cannon salute.
The upgrading of LAX gave the airport the ability to handle super-jumbo jets such as the Airbus A380 and the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. The upgrade also improved the safety and efficiency of aircraft movements on the ground, reducing aircraft emissions, and alleviating congestion at existing taxiways.
As part of the project, an American Airlines parking lot was replaced with pervious concrete, which allows stormwater to flow into the ground. According to Tim Chen of the contractor R&L Brosamer, this would reduce standing water, flooding, and surface pollutants, and replenish groundwater.
The Bradley West project was expected to create 4,000 jobs over its four-year construction schedule.
The LAX Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting Facility was certified LEED Gold by the US Green Building Council. All other buildings were registered for LEED Silver certification. The Silver LEED-EB (Existing Building) certification for the Tom Bradley terminal was the first ever granted to a renovation project at a US airport.
All projects were designed in accordance with LAWA's Airport Planning, Design, and Construction Guidelines. Three projects — Crossfield Taxiway Project, Taxilane S, and Bradley West Apron — were certified as LAWA Sustainable Planning and Design Projects.