It is very clear that Governor Andrew Cuomo is fed up with the sorry condition of New York’s infrastructure, particularly its airports.
A barrage of recent projects suggests he is on a mission to restore infrastructure glory to the state. Over the past year, the governor has been spotted on top of the new Tappan Zee bridge, breathing fire down the neck of the MTA to finish the Second Avenue Subway on time, showcasing plans for a spiffy LaGuardia and a gussied-up Penn Station, and breaking ground on a new hotel attached to Saarinen’s TWA terminal. To drive the need for better airports into the brains of constituents, there are not one, but three cartoon planes shooting off a logo for the state’s new mantra: “Building today for a better tomorrow.”
Today the state, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and other agencies have revealed long-awaited $10 billion vision plan for a new-and-improved JFK International Airport. The many proposed changes, driven by $7 billion in private investment, have three common goals: Modernizing the terminals, improving road access to the airport, and expanding mass transit options to accommodate a projected increase in passengers.
In a statement that channeled Rocky, Cuomo declared that “New York never backs down from a challenge, rather we step up to take on the ambitious projects that are often thought to be impossible. That’s exactly what transforming JFK International Airport is all about. Our vision plan calls for the creation of a unified, interconnected airport that changes the passenger experience and makes the airport much easier to access and navigate. We are New York, and we remember the bravado that built this State in the first place, and that is the attitude that will take JFK and turn it into the 21st-century airport that we deserve. I want to thank the panel, especially Chairman Dan Tishman, as well as all of our many partners who join us in this effort.” Tishman is the CEO of Tishman Construction Company and chair of the Governor’s airport master plan advisory panel.
The video above features some project highlights, as well as renders for what we could see at the airport in the coming years.
A vision of things to come? (Courtesy the Office of Governor Andrew Cuomo)
Right now, JFK may be ugly and dysfunctional, but it’s busy: Last year the airport welcomed over 60 million passengers, and that number is expected to grow to 100 million by 2050. Plans call for the unification of terminals to provide passengers with a more coherent visitor experience; redesigned the ring roads to allow better car access; expanded parking lots and taxi access; added train service; more amenities like the Beyer Blinder Belle–designed hotel addition to the TWA Terminal; and of course, added privacy-slashing security features like facial recognition and video tracking software to ensure that no terrorists destroy the new airport and to prevent hapless travellers from endangering us all with carry-on batarangs and loaded guns.
One of the biggest frustrations of traveling to JFK by car are the bottlenecks along the Kew Gardens Interchange between the Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway, the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike. Plans call for expanded lane capacity between the Grand Central and the Van Wyck, among other changes. In conjunction with today’s announcement, the state unveiled a competition to design welcoming public art that will grace twenty new auto crossings over the Van Wyck.
In all, New York will spend $1.5–$2 billion to improve roadway access to the airport, and is considering plans to increase mass transit capacity on the subway, LIRR, and AirTrain. Notably, the state is exploring the feasibility of a “one-seat” ride to JFK, which would mean no more getting off the A train to board the AirTrain only to find your MetroCard doesn’t have enough cash so you have to wait behind 20 clueless tourists on line at the machine when your flight leaves in 30 minutes—amirite?