SOURCE: Los Angeles World Airports

June 24, 2008 17:00 ET

Los Angeles International Airport Opens New Center Taxiway to Improve Airfield Safety; Project Completed Early and on Budget

LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - June 24, 2008) - Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa was joined today by city councilmembers and airport and federal aviation officials to announce the completion and official opening of the new center taxiway between the two runways on the south side of Los Angeles International Airport (LAX). The taxiway project, which began April 2007, was completed on budget and four days early.

Opening of the $83-million center taxiway marks the completion of the airport's overall $333-million South Airfield Improvement Program (SAIP) to improve airfield safety by reducing the number and severity of runway incursions that occur at LAX.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) defines runway incursions as any occurrence at an airport involving an aircraft, vehicle or object on the ground that creates a collision hazard or results in a loss of separation with an aircraft taking off, landing or intending to land. For the four-year period from 2000 through 2003, LAX experienced the highest number of runway incursions of any U.S. commercial airport. In 2006, using the traditional definition of a runway incursion, LAX experienced eight runway incursions, of which two were classified by the FAA as having had the serious potential to result in an accident. Last year, LAX experienced eight runway incursions, of which the FAA classified two as serious.

"Los Angeles International Airport is the U.S. West Coast's gateway to the world," said Mayor Villaraigosa. "Opening the center taxiway, as well as completing the South Airfield Improvement Program, will benefit the traveling public with improved airfield safety and reduced aircraft taxi and idle time -- thereby reducing harmful emissions into the air."

"The center taxiway is one of the most critical safety improvements to be implemented at LAX," said Wes Timmons, the FAA's runway safety director. "Having the center taxiway as a buffer to prevent aircraft from exiting the outer runway and accidentally infringing on the inner runway will prevent many runway incursions. This is an event in which the City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA) and the FAA can be justifiably proud."

Los Angeles Board of Airport Commissioners President Alan Rothenberg said, "Construction of the center taxiway was performed in an extremely challenging environment -- working between two active runways. I congratulate the hard work and dedication of the team of staffers from Los Angeles World Airports, the Federal Aviation Administration, and the airlines in completing the entire South Airfield Improvement Program on budget and ahead of schedule, with minor impacts to the traveling public in terms of delays and with minor environmental impacts to our airport neighbors."

Today's event follows a 14-month period during which the 10,000-foot long and 75-foot wide taxiway was constructed parallel and between the airport's two south runways, and shorter taxiways were constructed to link the runways to the center taxiway. Construction also included the installation of navigational and visual aids, utilities, lighting, signage, grading and drainage.

The completion of the center taxiway project followed the $250-million demolition, relocation and reconstruction of Rwy 25L, which re-opened April 2007. SAIP funding sources were airline landing fees; $105 million from FAA Airport Improvement Program grants; and airport operating revenues and capital improvement funds.

LAX has spent tens of millions of dollars since the late 1990s to enhance airfield safety with redundant signage and markings. While these new measures have resulted in a significant reduction in runway incursions, adding the new center taxiway has already demonstrated its effectiveness.

The center taxiway reduces the possibility of human error by requiring aircraft landing on outer Rwy 25 Left to exit the runway, travel down the center taxiway, and then hold until authorized by air traffic controllers to cross the inner Rwy 25 Right to reach the passenger terminal gates.

The "zig-zag" path causes an aircraft to slow sufficiently in order to stop in time and receive permission to cross the inner runway. Formerly, aircraft used high-speed taxiways to exit the outer arrival runway and runway incursions would occur if the aircraft did not stop in time to stay behind the hold-bar line. In a joint study involving LAWA, FAA and NASA Ames Research Center's FutureFlight Central, air traffic controllers found that the center taxiway offered an effective solution to the primary cause of the most severe types of runway incursions experienced at LAX.

SAIP incorporated several innovative practices to reduce environmental impacts from construction on areas in and around LAX. It was the first of the LAX Master Plan "green lighted" projects. As part of the LAX Master Plan Environmental Impact Report, and in accordance with Los Angeles City and California state regulatory requirements and consultation with community leaders, LAWA developed several measures to minimize construction impacts, including:

--  Recycling 100 percent of all the materials from the old runway into
    the new runway and taxiway
--  Placing concrete mixers and other equipment on-airport, thus reducing
    the number of trips service vehicles must take to and from the construction
--  Designating specific routes that service vehicles must use when
    traveling to and from the site
--  Retrofitting equipment and machinery to reduce noise and emissions
--  Continually dampening the work area to reduce dust

The FAA reported that while SAIP was under construction, air traffic controllers and airlines were able to maintain near-normal flight schedules.

Contact Information


    Mayor's Office
    Darryl Ryan
    (213) 922-9728

    Nancy Suey Castles
    (310) 646-5260

    Ian Gregor
    (310) 725-3580