What is the significance of the LAX Terminal 1.5 project?
Arnie Rosenberg: The T1.5 project is part of the larger modernization program underway to redevelop Los Angeles International Airport into a 21st-century world-class airport, serving as an international connecting hub and a major domestic destination. T1.5 is intended to improve the operational flow and curbside efficiency of the airport and improve the overall passenger experience by allowing people to move with ease from concourse to concourse without having to leave security.
The PDD [project definition document] team developed a rigorous program that provided both the airport and experts who prepared the subsequent environmental documents with a detailed roadmap, specifying how to get this project through the environmental, design and construction processes and integrate it into the continuously operating and expanding airport.
Through its overall effort to improve operational efficiency and the passenger experience, LAX has become a model for how to plan and implement such a large expansion program.
Can you address the key considerations in the Terminal 1.5 planning effort?
Arnie Rosenberg: The planning effort involved the development of a series of project objectives, to improve day-to-day operations and the passenger experience.
The operational side focused on performance characteristics, particularly passenger and vehicle congestion and energy efficiencies; there were also safety and security goals relative to peak-hour utilization and the latest Transportation Security Administration [TSA] requirements for baggage and passenger screening.
State-of the art design concepts were involved to enhance the terminal and passenger experience, using LAX’s temperate weather and natural airflow for cooling the structure and modern materials to block heat from the sun in the summer months. In addition, improvements were made for curbside vehicle flow and passenger flow within the terminal, including post-security connectivity with walking access between terminals 1 and 2 and the other LAX terminals.
When originally constructed, the airport was a series of unconnected unit terminals. LAX evolved over a long period from an origin-and-destination airport into one of the largest international connecting hubs in the United States. During this transitional time, many international airlines continued to serve LAX, but passengers were forced to leave airport security in their arrival terminal then make an arduous transfer to the international terminal where they were rescreened by TSA. T1.5 provides both the security screening, ticketing and baggage claim functions formerly in Terminal 1 and a secure connection to Terminal 2 to avoid going through security screening again if connecting to another airline.
Mark Kuttrus: Terminal 1 is right at the entrance to the airport, which is quite an active area. The first door for Terminal 1 is where many people stopped for drop-off, resulting in backed-up traffic beyond the intersection of the Sky Way & World Way and congested access to the entire terminal facility. By shifting necessary functions and entrance doors about 500 feet to the west, which was an open space that became T1.5, congestion from various standpoints could be addressed, including the interior layout of ticketing, security lines that backed up onto the sidewalk, and baggage-claim congestion. As a vertical structure with four levels, Terminal 1.5 provides increased capacity for Terminal 1 passenger processing. In turn, T1.5 has allowed the former processing space within Terminal 1 to be repurposed for concessions and remodeled for better passenger flow and an improved customer experience.
Planning the new structure as a vertical connector also built flexibility into T1.5 for future projects; to enhance passenger flow, T1.5 will link to the automated people mover [APM] system scheduled to open in 2023. The APM will connect people to a consolidated rental car facility, parking facilities, the LA Metro Rail system and the Tom Bradley International Terminal. When the APM is ready, the T1.5 structure is already prepared to link to it and support additional passenger flow, reinforcing ease of movement and intuitive wayfinding.
Arnie Rosenberg: It is difficult to overstate the importance of providing a calming experience for air travelers. Leaving the comforts of home, getting into transport, and potentially fighting traffic to the airport can be stressful activities. Making it easy for people to know what to do, where to go and how to get to there, within an appealing environment, can relieve pressure and put travelers at ease to complete the flight portion of their journey.