A $5.5 billion reconstruction programme at Los Angeles International Airport has started as the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games begins to approach ©Getty Images

An important milestone has been reached in the modernisation of Los Angeles International Airport in time for the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

After nearly a decade of planning and site preparation work, the $5.5 billion (£4.2 billion/€4.6 billion) programme to improve ground access has now started to move forward, thanks to Los Angeles 2028, it is claimed.

Heavy construction is proceeding on all the major components, including a $2 billion (£1.5 million/€1.7 million) automated people mover (APM), a $1 billion (£770 million/€848 million) consolidated car rental facility and a $220 million (£170 million/€187 million) intermodal transportation parking facility and several major roadway improvements.

The aim of these ground access improvements is to ease traffic flow around LAX - the three-digit international code by which the Airport is known locally - and allow passengers to be able to connect by rail with the airport’s terminals.

It is all part of the $14 billion (£11 billion/€12 billion) LAX modernisation programme, that also includes billions of dollars in terminal construction and renovations and airfield improvements.

It is the biggest expansion of LAX since a $700 million (£540 million/€594 million) reconstruction in preparation for the 1984 Olympics, the last time the city hosted the Games. 

A $2 billion automated people mover is among the work that has started at Los Angeles International Airport ©LAX
A $2 billion automated people mover is among the work that has started at Los Angeles International Airport ©LAX

Centrepiece of the ground access programme is the people mover, which will connect the terminals, two intermodal facilities for passengers to connect with bus and rail lines and the consolidated car rental facility.

Much of the work has been able to take place thanks to the reduced levels of air traffic caused by the current coronavirus pandemic.

Work is scheduled to be completed by 2026, well in advance of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In 2019, LAX handled 88,068,013 passengers, making it the world's third busiest and the United States' second busiest airport following Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The figure is expected to increase in the build-up to Los Angeles 2028 when it will become the third city after London in 1908, 1948 and 2012 and Paris in 1900, 1924 and 2024 to host the Olympics for a third time, having staged them for the first time in 1932. 

"The APM project is a critical component of plans to transform the world’s third busiest airport as Los Angeles prepares to host the 2028 Summer Olympics," said Terry Towle, group President of Fluor’s Infrastructure & Power business, which is part of the joint venture LAX Integrated Express Solutions Constructors.

"Logistically, this project is exceptionally challenging, requiring close coordination with numerous public and private entities. 

"As the system takes its aerial form, the future of LAX is steadily being revealed."