NEW YORK – Good news: the plan is to get the JFK airport renovation back on track and complete in a timely manner.
Bad news: This will make getting to the airport a nightmare for at least the next three years, as much of it will be a construction site.
Port Authority officials warn travelers to be prepared for traffic jams near the airport as the $19 billion renovation project gains momentum, promising a decades-long transformation at the airport busiest international of the three states.
“It’s a huge undertaking,” said Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
The new details were detailed on Monday. They understand:
- $9.5 billion for Terminal 1, which will be the largest part of the project as it will become the new international terminal
- $1.5 billion from Terminal 4 for Delta, which is already done
- $4.2 billion for Terminal 6, with investors like JetBlue
- $425 million from Terminal 8 for American Airlines, which is already complete
The first phase is expected to be completed in 2026. Construction is already underway, but will begin in earnest on May 1.
When they begin, executives hope to avoid a repeat of what happened at LaGuardia Airport not too long ago. Just five years ago, commuters could sometimes be seen walking alongside vehicular traffic on Grand Central Parkway to avoid the LaGuardia traffic jam.
“We don’t expect things to get any worse. We hope we’ve learned the lesson,” Cotton said.
To ensure that the same conditions do not arise, the Port Authority has opened an Airport Operations Center at JFK Airport where traffic engineers can monitor conditions around the clock.
“We could proactively mitigate and reduce all traffic from the departures level to the arrivals level,” said Jessica Forse, JFK’s redevelopment manager.
There may also be other challenges. The Air Train will not stop at Terminal 1 for the next seven months, so workers can build a steel structure over it. A taxi rank will also be moved into Terminal 5, creating a 10-minute walk for a taxi.
Forse doesn’t think the changes create too many headaches for travelers.
“I don’t believe so. Passengers will get on that bridge and go in and out of the airport,” he said.
The goal, of course, is to get passengers to deliver rave reviews, which was once unimaginable but is now happening at Queens’ other airport after the $8 billion renovation.
Airport executives seem confident that a modernization twice that size will do similar wonders at JFK. But New Yorkers might need twice as much patience to hang on until then.
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