Crossfield Taxiway Makes Way For Bigger Things to Come at LAX

Rebecca Kanable
Published in: 

A Qantas Airbus A-380 super jumbo jet is greeted with a water cannon salute as it becomes the first aircraft to travel on the just-completed $88-million, 3,437-foot-long Crossfield Taxiway.


The new $88 million crossfield taxiway that opened at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) this spring does more than connect the north and south airfield complexes. It marks the beginning of billions of dollars in phased construction projects designed to modernize the third busiest airport in the United States.

Facts & Figures

Project: Crossfield Taxiway

Name: Taxiway R

Airport: Los Angeles International Airport

Owner: Los Angeles World Airports

Length: 3,437 feet

Width: 100 feet

Cost: $88 million

Cost Including Related Projects: $105 million

Funding: FAA Airport Improvement Program funds & airport revenue bond proceeds from airline rates and fees

Design: Hatch Mott MacDonald and subconsultant partners

Prime Contractor (construction of taxiway, parallel service road & replacement apron): R&L Brosamer Construction Support Services: Paragon Project Resources

Overall Capital Improvement Program Management: AECOM Technical Services & partners including Parsons Brinckerhoff

Lighting: Cooper Crouse-Hinds

Parking Lot Architect & Structural Engineer: Goran Lazarevic

Pervious Concrete Contractor: Beeson Pervious Concrete

Structural Concrete Supplier: Catalina Pacific Concrete

Noteworthy Detail: First Category 6 taxiway at LAX constructed to accommodate new large aircraft

At more than 3,400 feet long and 100 feet wide, Taxiway R is the first Category 6 taxiway at LAX constructed to accommodate a new generation of larger, heavier aircraft including the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747-800. The airport's owner, Los Angeles World Airports (LAWA), anticipates commercial operation of the Airbus A380 to increase substantially at LAX by early 2012; and the new taxiway stands ready for the traffic.

In May, a QANTAS Airbus A380 weighing in at more than 1 million pounds became the first aircraft to travel the new pavement. "These larger aircraft will be able to use this taxiway a lot more safely because it's actually been designed to accommodate them," says Jake Adams, LAWA airside element manager.

Overall, the taxiway is expected to improve the safety and efficiency of aircraft ground movement and alleviate periodic congestion that had been occurring on existing taxiways. Before the Crossfield Taxiway Project, there were only three north-south taxiways: two in the middle of the airport and one to the west. The recently completed project gives LAX a fourth north-south taxiway in what Adams describes as "the least impactful area" of an airport that bustles with more than 565 daily domestic flights and 1,000+ weekly international nonstops.

Completing the new crossfield taxiway on time and under budget provided an auspicious start for the overall capital improvement campaign LAWA launched under the theme "Re:LAX It's All Good."

AECOM Technical Services is providing program and construction management services for the capital improvement program, which is the largest at the airport since the construction of the Tom Bradley International Terminal and second-level roadway before the 1984 Olympics. In this role, AECOM is assisting LAWA as part of an integrated LAWA/consultant project management team in managing the design and construction of about $4.5 billion in capital improvements, reports AECOM project manager Warren Sprague.

More Than a Taxiway

Construction of Taxiway R required the rerouting and tunneling of World Way West, one of the airport's major access roads, through the middle of the taxiway. The rerouting led to the construction of two bridges: one for aircraft and another for service vehicles.

The schedule necessary to complete all the work was "nearly impossible," recalls Adams.

Between the new taxiway and its related projects, about $105 million of work had to be accomplished in about 14 months, emphasizes Danny Williams, vice president of construction support contractor Paragon Project Resources. Paragon's purview included construction of the new taxiway, realignment of World Way West, utility and drainage improvements, and demolition of ancillary facilities. Various third parties were contracted to assist with the numerous utility relocations and temporary utility provisions, notes Williams.

"Working with them and being proactive and looking ahead was the only way we could get things done as needed," he recalls.

Substantial excavation was needed to tunnel World Way West, reports Paragon senior construction manager Chris Sullivan. And numerous phasing challenges were encountered along the way. Crews came across high voltage power lines, fuel lines, fiber optic ducts, sanitary sewer and storm sewer lines - all which needed to be relocated without interrupting service to the airport.

In all, Paragon managed about 180 requests for change, and each needed to be evaluated for how it would impact the cost and timing of about 1,370 activities on the schedule, Sullivan says.

"This job was on the critical path of the whole program,"

Williams says. "If we didn't complete it on time, then it would have delayed other projects that would have ultimately delayed the whole program."

The Planes Can't Stop

In addition to operating with a 14-month schedule, the project took place at an airport that services about 60 million passengers per year.

Design firm Hatch Mott MacDonald partnered with LAWA, the program and construction management teams and other stakeholders to maximize the construction area for contractors while minimizing operational impacts to airport users.

"The challenge we face in designing a project like this is creating a phasing plan that allows one of the world's busiest airports to continue to function in a safe manner, the way it did the day before we started the construction project," says Hatch Mott MacDonald project manager Curtis Wright, PE. "It takes creativity, flexibility, an understanding of the needs of each of the stakeholders, and some innovation and imagination by all."

He cites bridges that were designed and constructed to allow the existing World Way West to remain open during construction as examples of such innovation.

Maintaining airport operations, he notes, not only included keeping aircraft moving, but also ensuring the safe movement of construction personnel and equipment, airport service vehicles and employees going to and from work.

Sullivan considers realigning the airport's main roadway with little or no disruption to the tenants and operations one of the primary accomplishments of the project. American Airlines, he notes, was able to keep using its hangar while construction continued on three sides of it.

Utilities, key to airport operations, posed a challenge to the design and construction of the taxiway and initially caused delays. To compensate for the delays, construction workers worked longer hours. Construction contractor R&L Brosamer also devised a scheme to support a fiber optic duct bank that had not yet been relocated. The original plan called for relocating utilities underneath prior to building the bridge, but Brosamer used beams to create a temporary support bridge to suspend the fiber optic duct bank in midair while the taxiway bridge was being built around it until the permanent duct bank relocation was in place.

"That saved lots of time," notes John Pologar, area manager with R&L Brosamer. Expediting work on the bridge was important so traffic could be diverted below while the taxiway was being built on top.

Green Concrete

Varying soil conditions at LAX weren't allowed to strain the project schedule. To address potential problems associated with poor soil compaction, 19 inches of concrete was placed on top of 12 inches of econocrete, cement made with reclaimed materials.

"That gave us a very solid, stable structure to build the final pavement section on," Adams relates.

The econocrete layer included crushed concrete aggregate from existing pavement and maintenance buildings at LAX, explains Brosamer senior manager Tim Chen. The aggregate was mixed with sand that was cleaned and screened after being salvaged from the construction site. By using econocrete, waste materials that would have required off-haul and disposal were recycled and reused, notes Chen.

More Environmental Benefits

Additional environmental gains associated with the Crossfield Taxiway Project will provide immediate and long-term benefits. Increased efficiency in aircraft ground movement, for instance, reduces aircraft fuel burn and its associated air pollutants and noise emissions.

During construction, heavy construction equipment used diesel particulate filters to reduce air emissions, and bulk delivery hours were restricted to minimize vehicles on the highways during peak periods. Reclaimed water was used for dust control.

A traditional 1,600-space parking lot for American Airlines employees was replaced with pervious concrete, which allows storm water to flow through the concrete. This, explains Chen, reduces standing water, flooding and surface pollutants, and replenishes the aquifers below. The feature garnered LAWA two awards: the Excellence in Environmental Usage of Concrete Award from the Southern California Chapter of the American Concrete Institute and the Cornerstone Concrete Excellence Award from the Southern California Concrete Producers.

LAWA also installed two new treatment systems to further improve the quality of storm water effluent leaving the airport. Two underground filter structures, with approximately 1,600 filter cartridges weighing about 100 pounds each, remove impurities as rainwater drains from the airfield. Other equipment separates oil from water as aircraft are washed or rain mixes with petroleum on the pavement.

As traffic on the new crossfield taxiway becomes business as usual, LAX is already experiencing increased benefits, and it stands ready for even bigger benefits to come.


2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement

Giving back to the community is central to what Charlotte Douglas International Airport and its operator, the City of Charlotte Aviation Department, is about, and last year was no different. 

Throughout 2022, while recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued our efforts to have a positive impact on the Charlotte community. Of particular note, we spent the year sharing stories of how Connections Don't Just Happen at the Terminal - from creating homeownership and employment opportunities to supporting economic growth through small-business development and offering outreach programs to help residents understand the Airport better.

This whitepaper highlights the construction projects, initiatives, programs and events that validate Charlotte Douglas as a premier airport.

Download the whitepaper: 2022 Charlotte Douglas International Airport Report of Achievement.



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