Plan to build new LaGuardia is full of holes

By Peter Rutledge

Are we really spending $4 billion—or $8 billion, as estimated by Crain’s—to build the word’s largest waiting room?

The central terminal redevelopment project at LaGuardia airport announced this week is a turkey.

LaGuardia’s problems are (1) limited runway capacity and (2) non-existent one-seat ground transit. The terminal project does not address either of these issues.

Meanwhile, people who live near LaGuardia can expect to see local roads flooded with heavy construction vehicles and epic traffic tie-ups on the Grand Central. When the Mets play at home, traffic will be backed up in all directions for miles. This is likely to continue for 10 years, not “about” four years as hopefully claimed by VP Biden and Gov. Cuomo.

So make it $8 billion over 10 years, with no reduction in delays at LaGuardia and huge environmental impacts on local neighborhoods.

Such a deal.

If our elected officials were not so beholden to short-sighted developers, they might see that overall airport capacity could be increased by shifting traffic to Kennedy, Newark, Stewart and smaller satellite airports, and building 20-40 miles of new rail track.

Bingo, you have a system with three world class airports with one-seat mass transit to the city and elsewhere at much less than the cost of the new LaGuardia terminal, and a reduced environmental impact. All that is needed is to shuffle existing assets and complete some rail lines.

This case was recently argued in an op-ed in The New York Times written by urban transit expert George Haikalis, who urged the Port Authority to look at closing LaGuardia as an option. This is prime waterfront property that could be put to better use.

Peter Rutledge


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