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New York Governor unveils $10bn JFK Airport revamp

Walking in the footsteps of the $4bn LaGuardia modernisation project, the plan is to rebuild terminals and provide transit improvements that will increase efficiency at the US' fifth-largest hub.

With the LaGuardia Airport modernisation project underway, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled on Wednesday a $10 billion proposal to revamp the John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Expressing dismay at JFK’s deterioration, Cuomo said in a speech at the Association for a Better New York that revitalising its facilities is “part of the overall mission of building a new New York”.

“The most impactful developments, I believe, are what we can do with our airports,” Cuomo said in his speech.
JFK comprises six standalone terminals, some built by the airlines themselves. Cuomo said the idea is to have one long terminal serving travelers.

Other officials from New York State and New York City, where JFK is located, proposed projects that will increase transit efficiency to the airport.

State Department of Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll said his agency would spend up to $2 billion to add new lanes at the Kew Gardens interchange and Grand Central Parkway leading to JFK, and will add increase capacity at the connector ramps by adding additional lanes. Metropolitan Transportation Authority Chairman Thomas Prendergast said the MTA is exploring ways to build a one-seat rail line between Manhattan and JFK.

Cuomo, who has made infrastructure improvements a high priority during his time in office and rolled out a $100 billion long-term development plan last year, said the plan for JFK is to build a “unified, world-class airport. That’s job one.”

He did not mention in his speech a timeline for the project or how it will be funded. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which runs JFK and nearby LaGuardia Airport, approved a draft long-term spending plan on Thursday which had earmarked only about $1 billion for JFK improvements from 2017 to 2026.

However, New York has increasingly sought private-sector participation through public-private partnerships to fund its infrastructure needs, including the $4 billion LaGuardia airport modernisation that broke ground last year. Cuomo said New York will “go through the same process that we did with LaGuardia” for the JFK project.

Last June, Port Authority chose the LaGuardia Gateway Partners consortium, led by French fund manager Meridiam Infrastructure, to rebuild the airport’s Central Terminal Building, currently the largest PPP in the US.

Also approved included Port Authority’s budget plan is $600 million to start the second phase of the LaGuardia modernisation. Terminals C and D will be rebuilt by Delta Air Lines, which operates in those terminals, for another $4 billion project estimation.

Despite President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to increase infrastructure investments during his administration, nothing has been mentioned about whether New York will seek federal funds for the JFK or LaGuardia projects.