NY Governor Unveils $10B Airport Overhaul
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has proposed a $10 billion renovation to one of the United States’ busiest airports, in an effort to keep up with major improvement projects at airports in big cities worldwide.
According to the plan announced Wednesday (Jan. 4), John F. Kennedy International Airport, in Queens, would receive an $8 billion update, which would be augmented by a $2 billion expansion of the Van Wyck Expressway, leading to the complex.
Reworking Roads and Parking
According to the governor’s office, the proposed revamp includes major changes to the airport’s roadways and parking lots, in addition to changes to the size and in some cases location of terminals.
Under the plan, the roadways within the airport would be converted to a “ring road” system, which the governor’s office says would allow easier access to terminals for vehicles, including taxis and rideshare vehicles. Parking would be centralized within the “ring road.”
The plan also involves adding a lane in each direction to the Van Wyck Espressway as it approaches the airport, addressing bottlenecks on the expressway itself and at the Kew Gardens Interchange, where the Van Wyck meets Grand Central Parkway, Jackie Robinson Parkway and the Union Turnpike. The plan calls for considering limiting use of the extra Van Wyck lanes to high-occupancy airport-bound vehicles.
Also part of the plan is expanding rail access to the complex, which could involve extending the already-existing AirTrain system or introducing a one-seat rail ride from Grand Central and Penn Station to JFK.
As Curbed New York reports, the most complex of the five one-seat-rail plans put together by the Regional Plan Association involves the creation of a new right-of-way, which would most likely take the form of a tunnel, likely under the East River. Other, less expensive possibilities include expanding subway or rail lines through existing rights-of-way leading to the airport.
The roadways within the airport would be converted to a “ring road” system, which the governor’s office says would allow easier access to terminals for vehicles, including taxis and rideshare vehicles.
The vision plan for the overhaul was put together by an Airport Advisory Panel chaired by Dan Tishman, CEO of Tishman Construction. The panel also includes representatives of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and the New York State Department of Transportation, as well as local officials and independent urban planning experts.
The plan calls for leveraging private investment—up to $7 billion, according to the governor’s office. The advisory panel points to the overhaul approved last year for LaGuardia Airport, for which $3.9 billion of the total $4.5 billion cost is coming in the form of private investment.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has committed $2.5 billion to the JFK overhaul as part of a $32 billion, 10-year capital plan that will fund projects in both states.
JFK served 60 million passengers in 2016, according to the governor’s office, and is the fifth-busiest airport in the United States, serving more international passengers than any other in the country. It is expected to serve 100 million passengers annually by 2050.
The airport opened in 1948 as New York International Airport, and was renamed JFK in December 1963, shortly after the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
'History of Piecemeal Decision Making'
Cuomo’s office says the need for a major overhaul stems from short-term solutions and expansions that have been applied over the decades since the airport opened.
“The need to take action at JFK is the result of the airport’s history of piecemeal, ad-hoc decision making,” the office said in a press release on the proposal. “This legacy has produced the airport’s current condition with disconnected terminals, an inconsistent passenger experience, facilities that are quickly running out of capacity, on-airport roadways that are confusing to navigate, and an airport that is increasingly difficult to access."
Cuomo cited projects at big cities throughout the world when he unveiled the plan at a development-industry luncheon.
"This is a race, my friends," Cuomo said, according to Fortune, pointing out big infrastructure projects in cities like London and Dubai. "We sat on our laurels for too long."