New York initiates design competition for upgrading LaGuardia, Kennedy airports

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the state would open design competitions to fix and upgrade New York City’s aging airports. But financing construction is still unsettled.

October 27, 2014 |
Photo: Matt P. via Wikimedia Commons

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Oct. 20 that the state would open design competitions to fix and upgrade New York City’s aging airports.

However, Cuomo said little about where the money would come from to pay for those multibillion-dollar renovations, improvements, and construction. Capital expenditures would normally fall to the state’s Port Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.  

This lack of specifics didn’t stop the governor from making design and operational suggestions himself, such as linking LaGuardia Airport to Manhattan via ferries and the Long Island Railroad, or adding a hotel to Kennedy Airport.

The New York Times reported that Republic Airport on Long Island and Stewart Airport in Hudson Valley would also be involved in this master plan. Tax-free zones would be established around those two airports to encourage business investment, according to the New York Observer.

One question that remains unanswered is how this design competition intersects with—or might potentially impede—the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s selecting a winning bid from three consortiums for the $3.6 billion construction of a new main terminal at LaGuardia. The Port Authority operates LaGuardia and Kennedy. 

Cuomo didn’t think the design competition would counteract any construction contract, although he did state that the Port Authority had been moving too slowly on its plans to improve the airports.

The design competition would commence in late November, and three finalists for each airport would be chosen two months later, and awarded up to $500,000 for further development.  

Vice President Joe Biden, who was with Cuomo for the announcement of the design competition, and who famously compared LaGuardia to airports in third-world countries, was noncommittal about the federal government’s financial involvement in these projects. 

The area’s third big airport, Newark-Liberty in New Jersey, is not part of the design competition, but already has $8 billion earmarked for upgrades. Kennedy, LaGuardia, and Newark handled roughly one-third of the nation’s airline flights in 2013, according to the Newark Star-Ledger

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