LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A public hearing at Los Angeles International Airport on Thursday tackled a proposal to move the airport’s northernmost runway closer to the neighboring city of Westchester.
The city Airport Commission heard from residents on their reaction to the “LAX Master Plan”, which would move one runway 260 feet north and extend a parallel northern runway toward Sepulveda Boulevard.
LAX spokesman Mary Grady told KNX 1070 NEWSRADIO that while many residents remain staunchly opposed to the plan, most agree that the airport could use at least some modernization to accommodate new aircraft designs.
Grady noted that the average wingspans for today’s commercial aircraft is about 261 feet, compared to about 108 feet back in the 1960s.
“Every time we have one of those new generation aircraft land on one of those north runways, we actually have to hold traffic, because we have to move that [Airbus] A380 differently than we do the smaller aircraft,” Grady said.
With an estimated 61 million passengers traveling through LAX every year, the airport has become the third-busiest in the nation – a trend that has fueled plans for an $80-million renovation project to bring over 50 premier dining and luxury retail outlets-at the airport.
Grady says upgrades to the airport’s runways would not adversely affect neighboring communities, but rather enhance the safety of both passengers and flight personnel.
“We want to create a configuration where pilots can actually look and see what aircraft are coming, you can’t do that now,” Grady said. “What we’re trying to do is move the runway 260 feet north, still well within the boundaries of LAX, so it’s not going to encroach beyond our boundaries.”
Any proposed runway change or extension would not affect “live fire” training exercises like the one held early Thursday morning at the southwest corner of the 5.6-square-mile airport grounds.
The proposals also include the construction of a new terminal next to Terminal 1 and a light rail station near Terminal 7.
The Board of Airport Commissioners is expected to vote on the plan next week.
Click here to read the full report from Los Angeles World Airports.
(©2013 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)