The city's Airport Commission unanimously approved the largest single contract in Los Angeles history Monday, voting to award a $503-million deal to Clark Construction Group and McCarthy Building Cos. to overhaul the Tom Bradley International Terminal at LAX.
The companies, which bid on the project as a joint venture, will start refurbishing the 23-year-old terminal early next year. Up to 400 workers will be on the job at a time, as the building continues to be used by 34 airlines and 10 million passengers a year. Officials call it the most complex project of its kind in the United States.
The modernization effort, which is expected to total $723.5 million by the time it and related work are complete, will include new passenger paging, air conditioning and electrical systems, as well as elevators and escalators. Workers also will incorporate truck-sized explosives-detection machines into the building's underground baggage system.
The City Council must sign off on the negotiated contract, which includes an additional $72 million for unforeseen expenses.
It will be the first major construction work in Los Angeles International Airport concourses since the Bradley terminal was built along with its double-deck roadway in preparation for the 1984 Olympics.
"The traveler is going to feel a big difference," said Valeria C. Velasco, the commission's vice president. "It's going to be safer and more secure and efficient."
The agency has worked for eight years to devise a way to modernize the Bradley terminal, which is widely criticized as being crowded, difficult to use and aesthetically displeasing. When officials began the project in 1998, the cost estimate was $80 million. Costs increased after officials decided to incorporate the screening equipment into the baggage system and to build gates for new, larger aircraft.
Commissioners expressed concern at Monday's meeting that airport staff members had reduced the amount of money in the contract to redo flooring and for interior finishes, including light fixtures, walls and ceilings, in the Bradley terminal. The panel agreed that the amount may have to be increased to upgrade the interior.
"I know we are unable to tear [Bradley] down and build a new international terminal, so we're doing a $723-million remodel," said Walter Zifkin, an airport commissioner. "At the end of spending all this money we will have new systems, new infrastructure in that building ... but the look of the terminal will still not be in keeping with what I think LAX should present as the gateway to the city of Los Angeles."
About $52 million in the contract was set aside for finishes, but the money is not enough to replace the terrazzo flooring in the terminal, said Van C. Thompson, a civil engineer and the airport agency's manager for the Bradley terminal project. Officials had discussed patching the flooring's worn areas, he said.
Airport staff members said they would work with the airlines and contractors to devise a plan for the finishes and bring it back to the commission.
Commissioners also approved several related contracts Monday, including a $32-million first amendment to a contract with Parsons Transportation Group for construction management services at the Bradley terminal, for a total $46-million payout through 2010, when the terminal renovation is expected to be complete.
The commission also approved the seventh contract amendment, for $14 million, to a pact with Leo A. Daly Co. for architectural and engineering services on the terminal project, bringing the firm's total contract amount to $34.9 million.