A number of Queens elected officials yesterday gave Governor Andrew M. Cuomo a thumbs up on his announced $13 billion plan to transform John F. Kennedy International Airport into a modern 21st century airport anchored by two new world-class international terminal complexes on the airport’s north and south sides.
The investment includes $12 billion in private funding and advances Cuomo’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 least15 million passengers a year.
“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,” said Cuomo. “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 Governor’s JFK Vision Plan, initially in January 2017 and based on the recommendations from the Governor’s Airport Advisory Panel, 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. This includes better access to JFK from regional roadways, particularly the Van Wyck Expressway and the Grand Central Parkway, including the Kew Gardens Interchange.
When completed, the airport will yield a net increase of over 2 million in square feet from the existing terminals and provide 23 international gates, 22 of which will be designed to accommodate larger, wide-body aircraft (FAA Airplane Design Group V or VI) such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner or Airbus A380, which provides seating for over 500 passengers.
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.
On the Van Wyck itself, the 4.3-mile trip between the Kew Gardens Interchange and JFK airport can take more than a half hour during peak times. To improve the situation, 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 underway and expected to conclude in early 2019, with construction slated to begin in late 2019 and finished by end of 2024.
Cuomo also also announced the creation of the JFK Redevelopment Community Advisory Council, composed of elected officials, community boards, nonprofit organizations, civic organizations and clergy leaders. The Council will be chaired by Queens Borough President Melinda Katz and U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D) and will work with the Port Authority to expand community outreach efforts that are already underway, ensuring this ambitious project solicits ongoing feedback from local stakeholders as well as provides meaningful opportunities for local businesses, MWBE businesses and job seekers.
“Today’s announcement by Governor Cuomo is a welcome development that speaks to his administration’s leadership. The transformation of JFK into a state-of-the-art international airport for the 21st century is closer than we can imagine, and will be inclusive in ways that are crucial to the success of the project and the advancement of the community. This massive project will create regional job growth, especially in Southeast Queens and surrounding communities, as well as new business ventures for qualified MWBEs,” said Meeks.
Katz said the $13 billion overhaul of JFK will be instrumental in assuring continued economic growth and development across Queens.
“A project of this magnitude will bring many opportunities to the community of Southeast Queens, as well as encouraging additional investment from the state,” she said.
Other Queens elected officials who weighed in on the announcement are as follows:
State Sen. James Sanders Jr.: “The redevelopment of JFK has the potential to provide many great opportunities, and I want to make sure that those opportunities are also reaped by those who live closest to the airport. We look forward to a Community Benefits Agreement that solidifies the state’s commitment to the residents of Southeast Queens, and we are delighted by the 30 percent goal for Minority and Women-Owned Enterprises (MWBE) contracting and look forward to helping the Governor and the Port Authority reach that goal.”
State Sen. Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr.: “As the busiest airport in New York City, the demand for an airport that can accommodate the record-setting numbers of passengers each year is high, and this investment is precisely what is needed to make that vision a reality. These upgrades will make a real difference in the lives of New Yorkers who frequent JFK, and for visitors whose first impression of the state is the moment they step off the plane. I have lived near the airport all my life and understand it’s importance to our local economy and job growth. I applaud Governor Cuomo for staying true to his promise to improve our infrastructure and grow New York’s economy.”
Assembly Member Alicia Hyndman said, “Governor Cuomo has consistently made significant investments in New York’s infrastructure, and he has continued that with today’s JFK announcement. We are pleased That this transformative plan will provide New York with the world-class airport that it deserves. I commend Governor Cuomo for his commitment to our community directly affected by this redevelopment. I look forward to upgraded infrastructure, and look forward to seeing the new JFK.”
Assembly Member Clyde Vanel said, “The JFK Vision Plan to create unified, interconnected terminals on the north and south sides of this gateway airport is critical to revolutionizing the way travelers experience their visits to or departures from New York. This is key to not only bolstering New York’s economy, but to attracting travelers and visitors to the state to experience this world-class transportation hub for generations to come.”