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Port Authority briefs Borough Board on LGA, JFK redevelopment projects

Community Board 11 Chair Christine Haider was briefed on JFK and LaGuardia Airport improvements with other members of the Borough Board.
Photo by Mark Hallum
By Mark Hallum

A Port Authority official elaborated on plans to overhaul LaGuardia Airport Monday that included a feasibility study of Willets Point for an AirTrain connection from the Long Island Rail Road, redevelopments of terminals and on-site hotels.

Port Authority Director of Aviation Huntley Lawrence discussed the demand-driven nature of the expansion and the implications it could have on the surrounding communities with Borough President Melinda Katz and community board heads at Borough Hall.

The AirTrain proposal is currently under study by a consultant and the next steps will be an environmental study by the federal government and required public outreach. This would link LaGuardia to Midtown Manhattan via the LIRR, which Lawrence claims will reduce traffic in the surrounding residential neighborhoods.

It will also provide visitors with transportation to a consolidated rental car facility at Willets Point.

Access to LaGuardia would be improved with left turn safety upgrades of Marine Air Terminal Road and other improvements to three intersections along this corridor.

A parking garage on the west side with 3,200 spots has already been erected from precast segments and should be complete by the first quarter of 2018, he said.

Lawrence said the upgrades would make Queens more than just fly-over territory for frequent travelers, who often prefer prolonged stays in other airline hubs, such as Denver, with a hotel for both LaGuardia and JFK.

“Business travelers tell us they literally fly in, have a meeting at the airport and fly back home,” the rep said. “Of course, as a region, we like make them to fly in, stay a couple days and spend a lot of money on hotels and other things… That’s what we see at other places like Dallas and Denver. We want to start competing on the same level.”

These hotels would be for budget travelers and would not take business away from hotels in the surrounding communities, Lawrence said.

Modernized cargo facilities at JFK will account for a $70 million investment while $62 million will go to taxi-way upgrades for cargo planes.

Port Authority has about $10 billion set aside for overall improvements to on-airport developments which include the hotel and terminal overhauls at JFK. Road access and Van Wyck Expressway expansion will account for about $2 billion of this.

Reach reporter Mark Hallum by e-mail at mhallum@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 260–4564.

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