Port Authority announces JFK Airport traffic congestion plan as new terminal construction ramps up this summer

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With construction accelerating across JFK Airport this summer, the Port Authority announced a new free drop-off and pickup lot near the AirTrain station at Lefferts Boulevard.
Photo courtesy of Port Authority

With construction ramping up over the summer on the $19 billion JFK Airport redevelopment project, the Port Authority opened a free drop-off, pickup and waiting lot at the AirTrain station at Lefferts Boulevard to help passengers avoid heavy traffic congestion at the terminal frontages.

The new lot will allow travelers to easily hop on to the free on-airport AirTrain with frequent service for an easy, eight-minute ride to the terminals, saving them time and anxiety from potential construction-related congestion.

“We continue to evaluate traffic conditions and to add a variety of new measures to mitigate the impact of any congestion resulting from construction and high passenger volumes,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton said on Tuesday, June 11. “Today’s opening of this free drop-off/pick-up/wait lot is just that – an added measure that creates a free, new area to allow drivers to pick up or drop off air passengers with free on-airport AirTrain connections to the terminals without the need to drive into the congestion that may exist on terminal frontages.”

Photo courtesy of Port Authority

A record number of passengers are expected to use JFK this summer as construction is scheduled to reach peak levels, with an estimated 18.2 million passengers transiting through the airport, nearly 700,000 more travelers than last summer. The new lot includes hundreds of designated spaces with Long Term Parking Lot 9, next to the AirTrain station at Lefferts Boulevard, where drivers can wait for passengers and drop off or pick up travelers at no cost. The AirTrain connection to terminals via the Lefferts Boulevard station is also free of charge.

Photo courtesy of Port Authority

“Building a new JFK Airport with world-class terminals and a new and more efficient roadway network will cause some temporary inconveniences and heightened traffic for passengers this busy summer travel season,” Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole said. “While we will continue to do all we can to minimize the potential for airport traffic in the short term, we can assure you that in the end, a new JFK Airport will rise as one of the world’s great global gateways that will make today’s inconveniences seem like a distant memory.”

Photo courtesy of Port Authority

The massive project will replicate the transformation at LaGuardia Airport by constructing two new international terminals, two expanded and modernized terminals, a new ground transportation center and an entirely new roadway network, while maintaining full flight operations at JFK. There would also be increased transparency on the redevelopment project under legislation passed last month in the City Council.

Photo courtesy of Port Authority

Intro No. 134, sponsored by Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers and other members in conjunction with Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, would mandate the city’s Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) to provide annual reports to designated officials representing Southeast Queens detailing the progress of the redevelopment project and its associated community benefits.

Council Member Selvena Brooks-Powers sponsored legislation passed last month to expand oversight over the $19 billion redevelopment project at JFK to ensure community benefits reach the neighborhoods of Southeast Queens. Photo courtesy of NYC Council

“The extensive $19 billion overhaul of John F. Kennedy International Airport demands heightened transparency and community investment,” Brooks-Powers said after the measure passed on May 23. “It’s imperative that stakeholders and the public are kept abreast of the project’s advancements to ensure that the benefits extend to minority and women-owned businesses, local enterprises and the communities of Southeast Queens.”

In April, the Port Authority announced a record $2.3 billion in contracts have been awarded to Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE).

“The redevelopment of JFK Airport is a hugely important project that is slated to bring significant benefits to the surrounding community,” Richards said. “We want to make sure that the benefits promised to Queens residents are ultimately delivered. This legislation will ensure there is transparency and openness regarding the JFK project and help guarantee there is proper oversight of this major endeavor.”