JFK is next in line for $10 billion overhaul
Tuesday, January 10, 2017
A study by a panel into the state of New York's airports has come to the unsurprising conclusion that John F. Kennedy International Airport is in need of an overhaul. As a result, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo kicked off 2017 by announcing a $10 billion plan to revamp the airport and its transport network to improve the experience for travelers.
High on the list of works planned for JFK include unraveling the "confusing spaghetti network for on-airport roads that lead to multiple bottlenecks and chokepoints." Around $2 billion of the costs would go to expanding the Van Wyck Expressway, which links to the airport.
Then, the airport's collection of terminals will see improvements focusing on expanding the public spaces, adding fine dining and shopping, and increasing the number of aircraft gates available.
JFK is the busiest international gateway to the United States, and the fifth-busiest airport in the country overall, seeing some 56.8 million passengers in 2015. It is the first impression of the country for passengers from all corners of the globe every day, and Cuomo is well aware of the improvements being made in other cities around the world.
"We sat on our laurels for too long," he said last week.
New York citizens and frequent fliers can be forgiven for feeling overwhelmed by this announcement, which comes hot on the heels of a similar $8 billion plan to overhaul and redesign the crowded LaGuardia Airport, announced in 2015. JFK also had a completely new Terminal 5 built by JetBlue in 2008, replacing the old TWA terminal, part of which is to be developed into a new hotel.
Commenting on the plans already in place for LaGuardia, Cuomo said, "The next step is to tackle JFK, because La Guardia isn't enough," remarking that the terminals would become connected, parking lots centralized and the road network simplified. Security will also be improved by introducing facial recognition technology.
Cuomo is known for his sweeping infrastructure projects. In addition to the LaGuardia revamp, his Second Street Subway plan also recently opened.
However, the plan to overhaul JFK has its doubters. Quartz reported that one of the main problems not being addressed at JFK is that of public transport, which faces unsuspecting travelers with a range of awkward and expensive options for traversing the hour-long journey to Manhattan.
"It’s why weary travelers often throw up their hands upon arrival and jump in a taxi (flat rate to Manhattan: $52 plus tolls and tip), further clogging the roads," Leslie Josephs writes.
Officials are exploring the possibilities of providing direct trains via a new line or extension of the current lines to circumvent the need to buy two tickets and switch to the AirTrain, but have set no timescale yet.
The JFK overhaul is set to be put against other pressing transport and city projects before a decision and schedule is made. It is hoped airlines will provide some of the funding, and President-elect Trump is also known to be keen to invest in infrastructure as a priority.
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