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City approves $4.8B LA airport improvement plan

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Photo -   File-This Monday, April 22, 2013, file photo shows a China Southern Cargo jet taking off at LAX International airport in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles City Council voted to approve a long-debated, multibillion-dollar plan to expand and modernize LAX, despite intense opposition from community groups who claim the project would increase traffic congestion and air pollution. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes,File)
File-This Monday, April 22, 2013, file photo shows a China Southern Cargo jet taking off at LAX International airport in Los Angeles. The Los Angeles City Council voted to approve a long-debated, multibillion-dollar plan to expand and modernize LAX, despite intense opposition from community groups who claim the project would increase traffic congestion and air pollution. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes,File)
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LOS ANGELES (AP) — Los Angeles International Airport is a step closer to major renovations that have some neighbors vowing to sue, after the City Council approved a $4.8 billion project Tuesday.

The council's 10-3 vote OKs plans to move the northernmost runway about 260 feet closer to Westchester and Playa del Rey neighborhoods, according to City News Service.

Residents say they're skeptical of the airport's claims that the updated runway would more safely accommodate larger, modern planes. They say it's a ploy to draw more traffic to LAX rather than other regional airports.

"There will be a lawsuit," said Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents the district with affected residents.

The council's other dissenting votes were cast by mayoral candidate Eric Garcetti and Dennis Zine, a candidate for city attorney in the May 21 election.

Project program director Diego Alvarez countered that the current airfield was built in the 1960s to accommodate planes that are half the size they are today, causing landing delays because flights use a "nonstandard" process to arrive at LAX. Officials say the landing process is safe but could be safer.

The project would also create a transportation station near the airport for light rail, and connect passengers to terminals through an elevated people mover.

The project, which has been in the works since 2006, would also demolish Terminals 1, 2 and 3 at the airport, consolidate its rental car facility and make road improvements.

The plan now goes to the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and Federal Aviation Administration officials for consideration.

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