Skift Take

With New York LaGuardia finally getting a much-needed facelift, it makes sense that New York's governor is turning his attention to JFK. Most of JFK's terminals are in better shape than LaGuardia, but they're far from being among the world's best.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo proposed a $10 billion renovation of John F. Kennedy International Airport and surrounding roadways on Wednesday, his latest salvo in a roughly $100 billion push statewide to bring decaying old infrastructure into the modern era.

Cuomo’s proposal, based on recommendations from a study panel, would transform the New York City airport by unifying its terminals, which are currently disconnected.

It would also redesign internal roadways to eliminate bottlenecks, centralize parking lots and revamp amenities, Cuomo said at a luncheon sponsored by the Association for a Better New York, a development industry group.

Those changes could cost up to $8 billion, most of which might come from private investments. A proposed expansion of the Van Wyck Expressway, which leads to the airport, would cost another $2 billion.

Mass transit improvements – either the creation of a one-seat ride to the airport or expansion of existing capacity – would carry a yet-undetermined price tag. Currently, mass-transit passengers have to take at least two trains or a bus and a train to the airport.

“This is a race, my friends,” Cuomo said, referring to London, Dubai and other international cities speeding ahead with major infrastructure developments and glamorous, state-of-the-art airport projects. “We sat on our laurels for too long.”

Speaking to reporters after the luncheon, Cuomo said the Federal Aviation Administration had “short-changed” New York on the number of flight slots allowed at the airport. He said officials would urge Washington to authorize more slots.

If it moves ahead, the airport revamp would follow a $4 billion renovation of LaGuardia Airport, the city’s other major airport, currently underway via a public-private partnership. Both airports are in the city’s Queens borough.

The airports are operated by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. While LaGuardia is notorious for its decrepit conditions, Kennedy Airport is in better shape, but still ranks 59th out of the top 100 airports in the world, Cuomo said.

The city is also served by Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, which is run by the Port Authority.

The Democratic governor, viewed as a possible future presidential candidate, pushed New York City’s Second Avenue subway line – decades in the making – to finally open formally on Dec. 31.

Now in his second four-year term in office, he has emphasized big construction projects, including a replacement of the Tappan Zee Bridge across the Hudson River north of New York City and the LaGuardia Airport renovation.

The opening of the subway extension coincides with the incoming administration of Republican President-elect Donald Trump, who has pledged to jump-start infrastructure projects through tax credits.

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Tags: jfk, nyc, politics

Photo credit: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to spend $10 billion in mostly private investments to improve John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. Alex Wroblewski / Reuters

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