Nov. 8--Long-touted changes aimed at making LAX safer could take effect within months after the Airport Commission approved a $900,000 contract Monday with a security consultant.
Measures like thinning crowds in unsecured areas, streamlining vehicle checkpoints and beefing up screening technology could all get a jump-start under the contract awarded to the Rand Corp.
"We hope this will make significant progress not only to serve the safety of the traveling public but also the 50,000 people who work here," said Lydia Kennard, executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, which operates Los Angeles International Airport.
Rand has studied LAX security several times in recent years, both in response to post-Sept. 11, 2001, terrorism fears and questions about an $11 billion overhaul of the airport's master plan.
The new project will build on recommendations the think tank made in September 2004, offering an "immediate" plan for implementing the changes, according to an airport report.
The $900,000 contract, approved unanimously by the commission, will span nine months. However, officials said they hope to begin implementing some of the most important new security measures much sooner.
"As terrorism is dynamic, we're certainly not static," said Jim Ritchie, deputy executive director of LAWA.
Airport officials have embraced Rand's recommendation about thinning crowds in vulnerable spots because it appears to be the cheapest way to significantly improve safety.
The new study will look at design measures that could accomplish this, while also improving vehicle and baggage screening. Rand will also prepare a "road map" of how LAX and Ontario International Airport use security technology such as cargo-screening and bomb-detection equipment.
Rand, which used to count Kennard among its trustees, won the contract without a competitive bid. Airport officials said the nonprofit organization is uniquely suited to perform the consulting duties because of its prior work on the topic, as well as its expertise in terrorism research and analysis.
In response to a query by Commissioner Valeria Velasco, Kennard said the project would include input from airport customers and residents of surrounding communities.
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