The job of maintaining and expanding California’s airport infrastructure makes a critically important contribution to the health of our economy.

More than 150 million people and billions of tons of cargo flow through our airports every year. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) alone handles 1.6 billion tons of cargo annually, making it the seventh in the world for tonnage of cargo managed.

Continuing economic and population growth will strain our current airport capacity and create demand for more efficient air travel and cargo transport. To remain competitive, California must address this influx of people and cargo by rebuilding and upgrading aging international and regional airport facilities. Infrastructure projects of this magnitude are projected to cost in the tens of billions of dollars.

In Southern California, LAX has stepped up to this formidable challenge in a very big way. Considered to be the largest public works program in Los Angeles history, a multi-billion dollar Airport Capital Improvement Program is already underway.

Featuring 20 individual new construction and rebuilding projects, the program was launched in 2006 and will extend through 2019.

The centerpiece of the LAX infrastructure effort is the redesigned and revitalized Tom Bradley International Terminal with 18 new aircraft gates to accommodate new-generation aircraft and revitalized concourse areas. In addition to the Bradley Terminal, other large-scale airfield upgrade projects are planned including a new Central Utility Plant, new taxiways and taxi lanes, and renovations of other airline carrier terminals in the LAX complex.

This huge ongoing airport modernization effort is expected to create skilled jobs for 40,000 heavy construction workers over the life of the program. Airport officials estimate that 90 percent of the construction workforce will come from Southern California, and nearly 40 percent will reside in Los Angeles County.

Job growth on this scale, added to the benefits of improved LAX passenger and cargo service, illustrate very clearly just how important major airport infrastructure investments are to ensuring a prosperous future for California’s economy.