By Bill Parry
Gov. Andrew Cuomo presented a sweeping “vision plan” to transform JFK International Airport for the 21st century.
Based on the recommendations of the Governor’s Airport Advisory Panel, the $10 billion proposal lays out a comprehensive, airport-wide framework to expand and connect terminals with world-class amenities, expand taxiways to reduce ground delays, and improve road and mass-transit access to meet projected growth in demand.
JFK welcomes more international passengers to the United States than any other airport in the country, and served a record 60 million passengers overall in 2016. That number is expected to grow dramatically over the coming years, to 75 million by 2030 and 100 million by 2050, but the current airport will reach capacity by the mid-2020s. And for each million passengers that JFK fails to accommodate, the region loses nearly $140 million in wages, $400 million in sales, and 2,500 jobs, according to the governor’s office.
“New York never backs down from a challenge, rather we step up to take on the ambitious projects that are often thought to be impossible. That’s exactly what transforming JFK International Airport is all about,” Cuomo said. “Our vision calls for the creation of a unified, interconnected airport that changes the passenger experience and makes the airport much easier to access and navigate. We are New York, and we remember the bravado that built this state in the first place, and that is the attitude that will take JFK and turn it into the 21st-century airport that we deserve.”
The redesign of JFK is the latest in a string of massive infrastructure projects in New York City tackled by Cuomo after the $8 billion LaGuardia Airport reconstruction currently underway and the planned overhauls of Penn Station and the Javits Center. The new plan was presented at a luncheon hosted by the Association for a Better New York.
“John F. Kennedy Airport was once a world-class transportation hub, envied by the entire nation,” said Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye. “Today, it is choked with traffic and burdened with outdated systems and decaying infrastructure. Gov. Cuomo’s landmark plan to revitalize JFK will put New York back on the map as a premiere destination by building a new golden gate to this state.”
Cuomo’s plan also addresses key bottlenecks to and from JFK on the Van Wyck Expressway and the Kew Gardens Interchange. He endorsed $1.5–$2 billion in spending by the state Department of Transportation to improve the roadways into JFK, but the source of further funding for the project is unclear.
JFK has become a vital economic engine in Queens, supporting more than 285,000 jobs last year. Borough President Melinda Katz called the governor’s proposal a “bold, ambitious, critical plan to overhaul JFK,” while highlighting its benefits to surrounding communities.
“Especially welcome in the Governor’s plan is the inclusion of significant enhancements to the MTA Jamaica Station for mass transit riders on the subways, buses and rails, while looking to build out a seamless one-seat ride between JFK and Manhattan,” Katz said. “It’s a new day for infrastructure in New York, and Queens lauds the Governor’s new blueprint to transform our gateways and keep the region globally competitive in the 21st century.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr