Los Angeles International Airport has been awarded $56.5 million in federal grants to help pay to relocate one of the runways and soundproof neighboring homes, U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta announced Thursday.


A federal grant of $29.5 million will go towards the relocation of the airport's south runway, which is being moved 50 feet to the south as a safety measure.


The current runway configuration is considered too close to its parallel partner and has been cited as a factor in several near misses between planes on the airfield.


"Fixing the runway will make this a safer airport," Mineta said in a press conference at LAX announcing the grant.


Moving the runway would also allow for the introduction of the Airbus A380 superjumbo jet, which has a larger wingspan than other jet aircraft. On Monday, Qantas Airlines announced it would fly the first A-380 jet into LAX sometime in 2007.


Late last year, the airport commission awarded a $241 million contract to contractor Tutor-Saliba Corp. to proceed with the runway relocation. At the time, the federal government had already provided nearly $40 million in funding; Thursday's award brings the total federal contribution to $68.3 million.


Mineta also announced a $27 million grant to go towards the soundproofing of about 500 homes in Lennox, El Segundo and Inglewood. The money will pay for installation of double-paned windows, more solid doors and better attic installation, he said. To date, the federal government has provided $106 million to soundproofing efforts around the airport.

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