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Biden, Cuomo Announce Rebuilding of 'Third World' La Guardia Airport

Biden, Cuomo Announce Rebuilding of 'Third World' La Guardia Airport
Vice President Joe Biden and appears with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveil plans for new area infrastructure projects on July 27, 2015 in New York City. (Getty Images)

Monday, 27 July 2015 05:39 PM

New York’s La Guardia Airport, consistently ranked among the worst in the U.S. in cleanliness, design and delays, will be torn down and rebuilt with help from Delta Air Lines Inc.

The new airport would consolidate four terminals into one, connect the facility to the New York City subway system, create more space for airplane taxiways and add a hotel, Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

The governor didn’t release a timetable for the full project, though he said the first phase, the $4 billion rebuilding of the 50-year-old Central Terminal, will open to the public in 2019 and be finished in 2021.

“There’s no way to fix this; we literally have to tear it down,” Cuomo said Monday in a speech to the Association for a Better New York in Manhattan.

Cuomo was joined by U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden, who once likened La Guardia to an airport in a third-world country.

“New York deserves a better airport, and its future demands it,” Biden said Monday.

The governor’s announcement came three days after La Guardia suffered flight delays stretching to almost three hours after contractors working at terminal used by Delta accidentally cut electric cables.

Pedestrian Bridges

In May, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey selected a group led by Swedish construction company Skanska AB to help finance, build and manage the replacement for the central terminal. Plans call for a new 35-gate facility with more restaurants, stores, bigger gate areas and improved passenger and baggage screening.

The redesigned facility will use a system in which passengers get to their gates through raised pedestrian bridges, helping to create more space for planes to taxi and ensuring fewer delays, officials said.

Delta has committed to redevelop its two terminals at the same time as the central building, Cuomo said.

“This doesn’t happen without Delta Airlines,” Cuomo said.

Ed Bastian, president of Atlanta-based Delta, commended Cuomo on the reconstruction plan. Delta has has spent more than $2 billion on infrastructure upgrades at La Guardia and John F. Kennedy International airports, he said.

“The initiatives announced today are aligned with our ongoing commitment to providing an exceptional experience for anyone traveling through New York for business or pleasure,” Bastian said in a statement.

The new central terminal, also known as Terminal B, will be built in stages, Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye said. The agency manages the area’s three major airports. Tenants of the Central Terminal include United Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

America’s Dirtiest

Foye said he didn’t know how much Delta would contribute to the rebuilding or how ferry and rail connections to the airport would be funded.

Port Authority is contributing $2.2 billion to the project over the next 10 years.

La Guardia Airport, in the borough of Queens, was voted America’s dirtiest and most poorly designed by readers of Travel & Leisure magazine in 2012. Built in 1964, with a capacity of 8 million annual air passengers, the central terminal is expected to serve 17.5 million passengers annually by 2030, according to the Port Authority.

In a statement provided by the governor’s office, Robert Caro, the Pulitzer-Prize winning biographer of urban planner Robert Moses, called Cuomo’s vision of transforming La Guardia “heroic.”

“Just as the first La Guardia Airport took New York into the modern age of the 1930s and ’40s, now we have this new airport which will take New York into the 21st century,” Caro said.

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New York's La Guardia Airport, consistently ranked among the worst in the U.S. in cleanliness, design and delays, will be torn down and rebuilt with help from Delta Air Lines Inc.
la guardia, airport, rebuilt, delta, new york
Monday, 27 July 2015 05:39 PM
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