Be Part of Airport Expansion Process
As a resident of the nearby airport community of Playa del Rey and chair of Opportunity LAX, a recently formed organization which advocates working within the LAX master plan process, I feel it is important that I raise my voice against those who wish to stifle a process that only acts to breathe new life into the airport and enhance its surrounding communities.
It is a fact that the issues associated with overcrowding and inadequate facilities at LAX have created severe air and ground congestion, and have had negative environmental effects upon the surrounding communities. Failure to catch up to present demands and meet the needs of the future will continue to make the airport less manageable and more inadequate each and every day. Given safety and environmental considerations, as well as the potential benefits available to the surrounding communities, maximizing the efficiency of the existing facilities and providing new facilities at LAX must be our highest regional priority.
Passenger activity has tripled since 1970, and the present forecast states that current totals will increase by more than half again in the next 25 years. This fact alone demands a quick and effective response. Additionally, the Los Angeles region is at the crossroads of becoming a leader in North-South and East-West commerce. However, without the capacity to handle the inevitable increases in the number of travelers and cargo, we will lose the opportunity to further strengthen our region’s role as the commercial gateway to Asia and South America.
Stifling opportunities to improve the flow of passengers and cargo makes no sense. Through the master plan process, we can have a steady voice in ensuring that the eventual improvements are sensitive to local environmental, economic and community needs.
Through the master plan process, we have an opportunity to solve many of the problems currently experienced at LAX. New lanes on the San Diego Freeway to feed directly into LAX can greatly reduce freeway congestion. A ring road around the airport can provide easy ingress and egress to the various terminals, and reduce air pollution by eliminating traffic congestion. Additional parking structures, public transportation infrastructure and an improved shuttle system are some of the mitigating measures that will have direct benefits to the community.
The airport and the community must vigorously work with the FAA to ensure that the airline industry installs quieter engines in an expeditious manner and stringently adheres to all FAA guidelines for landings and takeoffs. The master plan must incorporate park/open spaces, economic packages to encourage and assist local businesses, and development plans to provide facilities to be utilized by the community. These are just some of the opportunities that we should be emphasizing, rather than politicizing the process.
Opponents of the master plan argue that without badly needed improvements to LAX, increased commercial traffic and passengers will simply be diverted to Palmdale, Orange County, or some other location. First of all, no major international carrier will fly its Los Angeles-bound passengers to Palmdale. And I doubt most Los Angeles taxpayers would be very keen to seeing allocated funds re-diverted, and the loss of businesses and jobs to other cities and regions.
I am convinced that the LAX master plan is the solution our region so urgently requires in order to keep up with the projected increase in passenger air traffic and remain economically competitive as a commerce center of an ever-increasing global economy.
CHRISTOPHER C. PAK