The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency at the heart of the scandal threatening Governor Chris Christie’s future, proposed a $27.6 billion 10-year capital plan to pay for projects including a new central terminal at LaGuardia Airport.
The authority’s capital-planning committee said today it wants to allocate $8 billion to construction at the New York City area’s three major airports, according to the plan. That includes $2.2 billion as part of a $3.6 billion redesign of LaGuardia’s 50-year-old terminal, voted America’s dirtiest and most poorly designed by readers of Travel & Leisure magazine.
“Some of our airport terminals rate among the worst in the country in terms of design and overall passenger experience,” said Port Authority Executive Director Patrick Foye. “The need for the upgrade is obvious.”
Last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who shares oversight of the agency with Christie, the Republican New Jersey governor, said he would assume management of construction at New York City’s airports to extricate the projects from what he called bureaucracy endemic to the 93-year-old Port Authority. Long lines at ticket areas and a dearth of concessions are among the deficiencies.
Rebuilding LaGuardia’s central terminal has been in the planning stages for 10 years, said Foye. It lacks free Wi-Fi and was ranked the worst in the country for four straight years by a Zagat survey.
Plans call for construction of a 35-gate, 1.3 million-square-foot terminal with more restaurants and lounges, bigger gate areas and improved passenger and baggage screening. Twenty new gates will open to passengers in the fourth quarter of 2018, and the project will be completed in 2021, according to preliminary plans.
People familiar with Cuomo’s plans said he decided to take a more prominent role before the disclosure that Christie’s aides may have engineered George Washington Bridge traffic jams as political payback for a mayor who didn’t endorse Christie.
The agency is also planning a $1.5 billion extension of the PATH subway from lower Manhattan to Newark Liberty International Airport and to spend $1.2 billion on improvements there, including the redevelopment of Terminal A.
The Global Gateway Alliance, a group lobbying for investments in New York-area airports, said in a statement that it was pleased the Port Authority was making them a priority.
“These investments are vital, but they also take years to complete,” the group said.
Officials also proposed spending $1.2 billion to replace all the George Washington Bridge’s 592 suspender ropes and $4.9 billion to complete rebuilding of the World Trade Center site in Manhattan in the next two years.
“I view this as a turning point,” Foye said. “With the completion of these commitments, the agency can once again focus its resources on our airports, bridges, tunnels, ports.”
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