New York to spend $13 billion to upgrade John F. Kennedy Airport

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has announced a $13 billion plan to transform John F. Kennedy International Airport into a modern 21st century airport, featuring by two new terminal complexes on the airport’s north and south sides.

The investment — including $12 billion in private funding — “advances the governor’s vision for a unified and interconnected airport system with best-in-class passenger amenities, centralized ground transportation options and vastly improved roadways that collectively will increase the airport’s capacity by at least 15 million passengers a year,” according to a statement issued by the governor’s office.

The governor’s JFK Vision Plan, initially unveiled in January 2017, calls for an overhaul of the airport’s hodgepodge of eight disparate terminal sites into one unified JFK Airport by demolishing old terminals, utilizing vacant space, and modernizing on-airport infrastructure, while incorporating the latest in passenger amenities and technological innovations.

The vision plan also calls for increasing the number and size of gates, improving parking availability, an array of airside taxiway improvements to allow for bigger planes and reduced gate congestion, upgrading the AirTrain JFK system to handle increased passenger capacity, and enhanced roadways on and off the airport.

Last year, a master planning team was selected for the airport redevelopment, led by Mott MacDonald and Grimshaw Architects. Late last year, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey started a process with the airport’s existing six terminal operators seeking proposals from each of them to modernize, expand and/or replace their facilities. The proposals were in turn evaluated by a formal comparative analysis team against a set of established criteria to determine the best combination of developments that would achieve the core master plan objectives, as well as fully utilize the port authority’s previously approved $1 billion capital plan commitment.

The recently-announced plans for the two terminals will now be submitted to the port authority’s board of commissioners. Once lease terms are finalized, the leases will be subject to final board approval. Additional discussions with multiple other airlines and terminal operators remain ongoing to further advance the goals of the vision plan, according to the statement from the governor’s office.

The new passenger facilities will feature larger waiting areas with high ceilings, natural light and modern architecture coupled with interior green space, exhibits and art featuring iconic New York landmarks and local artists. World-class retail, restaurants and bars will include locally-based restaurateurs, craft beverage options and Taste NY stores. Free, high-speed Wi-Fi and an abundance of charging stations throughout the terminals will enable passengers to stay connected at each step of their journey.

Further, at the center of the airport, the port authority will seek proposals to develop the new Kennedy Central hub, issuing a request for information in the coming months. Options might include, but aren’t limited to, public open and recreational space, conference centers, cultural uses and other amenities for the traveling public and the airport’s workforce.

In addition, an additional $2 billion in private non-port authority funding will be allocated to an array of critical infrastructure upgrades laying the foundation for these world-class new terminals.

Off airport, the New York State Department of Transportation has targeted $1.5 billion in highway improvements designed to ease bottlenecks, particularly at the Kew Gardens Interchange with the Van Wyck Expressway and on the notoriously congested Van Wyck as well. The goal is to help reduce travel times for vehicles between midtown Manhattan and the airport.

Construction is slated to begin later this year on improvements to eliminate bottleneck conditions at the Kew Gardens Interchange – originally built in the 1930s – with the Grand Central and the Van Wyck Expressway. It still contains a series of ramps that do not meet today’s standards, and the improvements are expected to be complete by the end of 2022.

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