New York governor envisions $9B overhaul of JFK

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In addition to a $7 billion airport renovation, the governor's JFK plan calls for up to $2 billion in roadway and public transportation improvements.
In addition to a $7 billion airport renovation, the governor's JFK plan calls for up to $2 billion in roadway and public transportation improvements.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday unveiled the vision for a $7 billion renovation of John F. Kennedy Airport, plus up to $2 billion in upgrades to roadways and mass transit to the airport.

"Our vision plan calls for the creation of a unified, interconnected airport that changes the passenger experience and makes the airport much easier to access and navigate,” Cuomo said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages the airport, would seek to finance the renovation with the help of $7 billion in private investment. The project does not yet have a timeline.

Under the proposal, Kennedy’s six disparate terminals would be connected via an expansion of the newer terminals and the relocation of the older terminals. In-terminal dining, meeting facilities, retail and duty-free shopping would be improved. Lodging will be upgraded with construction of the TWA Flight Center Hotel, on which ground was broken in December.

The vision also calls for simplification of the 30 miles of twisted roads that currently wind through Kennedy. In their place would be a simple ring roadway offering direct access to terminals and encircling centralized parking garages. 

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would seek to finance the renovation with the help of $7 billion in private investment.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would seek to finance the renovation with the help of $7 billion in private investment.

In addition, the vision calls for the expansion of Kennedy’s taxiways, a move that is designed to reduce flight delays and create the possibility that the FAA will allow more daily flights in and out of the capacity-constrained airport.

Finally, the vision calls for security upgrades, including the integration of facial-recognition technology.

Under the plan, which was devised with the help of a five-person Airport Advisory Panel established in 2014, an additional $1.5 billion to $2 billion would be spent on improving roadway and train access to JFK, which sits 15 miles from midtown Manhattan but can sometimes take two hours to reach.

Key roadways would be widened, including the Van Wyck Expressway, which would be increased from three to four lanes. Meanwhile, the vision includes two options to improve the AirTrain.

The less comprehensive option would involve increasing the frequency and capacity of the existing AirTrain along with improving the Jamaica station, where riders transfer to and from the New York City Subway.

Under the more thorough option, the AirTrain would connect seamlessly into the subway, so passengers wouldn’t have to transfer.

Cuomo unveiled the vision for a revitalized JFK as work is underway on an $8 billion, 5-year rebuild of LaGuardia Airport.

In a statement Wednesday, Joe Sitt, chairman of Global Gateway Alliance, an advocacy group for users of the New York-area airports, praised the vision for the remake of Kennedy. But he also called for direct train access from the airport to the city as well as for improved air traffic control infrastructure in order to deal with delays.

"Otherwise, better airports will just be nicer places to be stuck waiting,” Sitt said.

JFK served 60 million passengers in 2016 and is expected to serve 75 million passengers by 2030, according to Cuomo’s office.

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