Multibillion-dollar plan aims to upgrade and repair JFK Airport’s outdated terminals and roadways

JFK airport – shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock

From upgrade terminals to more manageable roadways, John F. Kennedy Airport will see an huge number of improvements thanks to a new multibillion-dollar plan.

Governor Cuomo announced a $13 billion plan to transform the terminals at JFK Airport. The improvements will come with state-of-the-art technology upgrades, security enhancements and streamlined road access.

“While leaders in Washington talk about investing in infrastructure, we’re actually doing it at historic levels and the transformation of JFK Airport into a 21st-century transportation hub will ensure New York remains the nation’s front door to the world,” Governor Cuomo said. “This historic investment to modernize JFK Airport and the surrounding transportation network will not only ease travel through this major hub, but it will ensure JFK joins the ranks as one of the finest airports in the world.”

The south terminal will replace JFK’s Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and the area left vacant when Terminal 3 was demolished in 2014. The new terminal will provide 23 international gates, 24 security screening lanes, over 230,000 square feet of retail, dining and other concessions, 116,000 square feet of airline lounges, and 55,000 square feet of interior green space, children’s play areas and cultural exhibits.

The north terminal, which will be built in place of Terminal 7 and the demolished Terminal 6, will have 12 international gates, 74,000 square feet of retail, 30,000 square feet of airline lounges, and 15,000 square feet of recreational space. 

Construction on the north and south terminals, which has been allocated $3 billion and $7.9 billion, respectively, is expected to begin in 2020 with the first new gates opening in 2023 and substantial completion expected in 2025.

World-class terminals and best-in-class customer service will go hand-in-hand at John F. Kennedy International Airport under Gov. Cuomo’s leadership,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “The reimagined, modernized JFK Airport will be the gateway that New Yorkers deserve, enabling continued passenger growth in the decades to come.”

In addition to the enhancements to the terminals, the state DOT will implement plans to improve the “spaghetti-like roadway system” and provide easier access to terminals. Plans include linking the terminal areas by two “ring roads” — a north loop and a south loop — which will make it easier to enter and exit the airport while providing significantly easier access to the terminal areas on both sides of the airports.

The State DOT is also allocating $1.5 billion toward highway improvements designed to ease bottlenecks, particularly at the Kew Gardens Interchange with the Van Wyck Expressway. Construction on the interchange is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.

On the Van Wyck Expressway, the DOT is planning to build a fourth lane in both directions, which would be restricted to passenger vehicles with three or more people and for-hire-vehicles with at least one passenger. The environmental approval process is currently underway and expected to conclude in early 2019. Construction is slated to begin in late 2019 and finished by end of 2024.

To keep up the rising demand of public transit, Port Authority will be adding 50 percent capacity to the AirTrain JFK system as well as increasing frequency of service.

“The $13 billion overhaul of John F. Kennedy will be instrumental in assuring continued economic growth and development across Queens,” said Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. “A project of this magnitude will bring many opportunities to the community of southeast Queens, as well as encouraging additional investment from the state.”