Now that work is underway on a multi-billion-dollar rebuilding of LaGuardia Airport, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has outlined an ambitious effort for an equally massive transformation of JFK Airport.
The proposal put forward by Cuomo and his Airport Advisory Committee this week envisions a more integrated facility, with terminals that are connected to each other instead of the current sprawling layout of independent structures, and that will be more easily accessible with the help of big improvements in transportation infrastructure within and to the airport.
In announcing the plan, Cuomo noted that JFK handled a record 60 million passengers in 2016, with that number projected to grow to 75 million by 2030 and to 100 million by 2050. The airport as it is today will exceed its maximum capacity in about eight years.
Past efforts to expand JFK have been “piecemeal,” Cuomo’s announcement said. “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.” He said JFK currently ranks 59th among the world’s 100 largest airports “and falls far short of today’s global standards.”
The plan for a new JFK includes the following elements:
- Interconnecting the airport’s terminals “by expanding newer terminals and redeveloping/relocating older terminals.” The report said older terminals include 1, 2 and 7, while newer ones include 4, 5 and 8.
- A redesign of the airport’s interior roadways “to evolve into a ‘ring road’ configuration,” permitting faster access to terminals.
- Centralized and expanded parking lots inside the ring road layout, “with clear short-term and long-term parking options.”
- A passenger-oriented quality control program for all airport facilities that will “ensure world-class amenities – including fine dining, duty-free shopping, best-in-class retail, and conference and meeting room facilities.” The report noted that this started last month with the groundbreaking for the TWA Flight Center Hotel, which will be linked to JetBlue’s Terminal 5 and will use the old Eero Saarinen-designed TWA Terminal as its centerpiece.
- Expanded taxiways that will reduce ground delays for aircraft and will increase the number of takeoff and landing slots that the airport can accommodate.
- An overhaul of security technology at the airport to keep it “state-of-the-art,” including “future global best practices such as facial recognition and video tracking software.”
The state’s plan for JFK also includes improvements to transportation infrastructure outside the airport. Cuomo has endorsed $1.5 billion to $2 billion in highway improvements intended to untangle “key bottlenecks in road access to and from JFK on the Van Wyck (Expressway) and at the Kew Gardens Interchange.”
The advisory panel also recommended ways to improve mass transit to JFK, such as doubling the capacity of the existing AirTrain that links the airport to the key transit hub of Jamaica Station; improving connections to the AirTrain at Jamaica Station from subways and the Long Island Rail Road; and “exploring the feasibility of a one-seat rail ride to JFK” – i.e., one that wouldn’t require a transfer to the existing AirTrain line.
The proposal did not suggest a timetable for the project, but did say the effort “has the potential to drive up to $7 billion in private investment” toward the estimated total cost of $10 billion.
Readers: What’s your opinion of JFK Airport? What kind of improvements do you think are most urgently needed there?
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