On Monday, Vice President Joe Biden and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo held a joint press conference to announce much-needed plans for overhauling New York's problematic LaGuardia Airport. The "transformative redesign" will rescue the dilapidated terminals and replace them with a more logical and unified structure. The new design will also be much more aesthetically pleasing than the current complex, and seeks to create added efficiency at the airport, which came in dead last in a list of America's largest airports ranked according to on-time departures. The first half of the project is expected to cost around $4 billion, which will hopefully be enough of an investment to cut down on the many jokes made at the airport's expense.
The majority of the cost, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport in northern Queens, will go toward tearing down the existing Central Terminal Building and replacing it with a new structure with a grand entryway. Airport officials had previously investigated options for renovating the terminal and providing it with a modern upgrade, but it was ultimately decided that a tear-down-and-rebuild approach would be more cost-effective.
The new plans also seek to make the airport more efficient for travelers, who currently suffer tragically long delays and often encounter difficulty getting from one part of the airport to another. To alleviate some of those annoyances, the redesign will move the airport buildings south, closer to the freeway, opening up space for an additional two miles of taxiways. That feature will directly impact flight schedules and help aircraft move more efficiently between the terminals and runways, reducing traffic-related delays.
With such an enormous project, especially one in a carbon-heavy industry like air travel, we expected to hear about clean energy initiatives planned for the new design but none have been announced to date. It is speculated that the construction project will create some 8,000 jobs and additional permanent jobs in the expanded airport, which will house even more shops and restaurants than the existing venue. Planners have even mentioned the possibility of adding a hotel and conference center to the site in the future.
The redesign will break ground in the first part of 2016, and is expected to be completed within five years.
Images via Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo (via Flickr)