A year after comparing New York’s LaGuardia Airport to “some Third World Country,” Vice President Joe Biden helped unveil an ambitious plan Monday to rebuild its collection of aging terminals into a modern, unified hub while easing congestion by doubling the space available for planes to operate
I wish everything I said that was truthful but controversial would turn out this well,” he joked during the announcement with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The overhaul would remake the entire footprint of the airport, which is shoehorned onto a small, oddly-shaped property of about 680 acres on the shore of the East River. The space is a fraction of what’s used at other airports around the country handling similar passenger loads, and there’s no room to expand it.
LaGuardia’s existing, cramped and chaotic buildings would be demolished and replaced with a big new terminal 600 feet closer to the Grand Central Parkway, the highway that rings the airport like a moat.
That shift would relieve some of the space constraints for aircraft trying to taxi to and from the congested gate areas. More space would be made by having passengers get to their gates using elevated passageways that pass over active taxiways. In all, nearly two miles of new taxiways would be created.
Construction on the first phase of the project would begin next year, pending final approval by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the airport. A second phase would be overseen by Delta Air Lines.
The first remade portions of the airport would open to passengers in 2019.
“This is what New Yorkers deserve and have deserved for a long time. And now we’re going to get it,” Cuomo said.
He said the current airport is a collection of cramped terminals with high volume and low ceilings, and is “un-New York.” dated, it has a terrible front-door entrance way to New York,” he said.
Biden said last year that if he blindfolded someone and took him to LaGuardia, he’d think he was in “some Third World country.” Biden lauded the governor for “thinking big.”