Thu | Aug 24, 2017

US$10b upgrade for JFK airport

Published:Friday | January 6, 2017 | 1:00 AM

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has unveiled a US$10-billion plan to transform the ageing John F. Kennedy International Airport into a world-class hub with easy access.

The governor told a gathering of the Association for a Better New York on Wednesday that JFK lags far behind modern overseas airports.

"JFK is ranked 59th out of the top 100 international airports," he said, later mentioning state-of-the-art airports in London and Dubai. "Time has passed us by. We have to catch up."

Plans for JFK are based on recommendations from the governor's expert advisory panel.

Sixty million people pass through JFK each year. That's expected to rise to 75 million by 2030, and 100 million by 2050.

Cuomo said a critical factor is to expand roads leading to the Queens airport, lessening the current traffic congestion. The Van Wyck Expressway would acquire an extra lane, as would the Kew Gardens Interchange. Private companies are being invited to offer bids for this construction work.

The AirTrain, a rail line that carries passengers from Queens' Jamaica neighbourhood, would be expanded from two to four cars.

At the airport, terminals are to be linked to each other, allowing travellers to move without going outside. Newer terminals would be expanded, and older ones would be rebuilt or renovated, accessible by one ring roadway.

In view of security concerns, the plan also provides for facial-recognition technology.

Cuomo said he expects US$7 billion to come from private funding, with another US$1 billion or so still to be allocated. Up to US$2 billion for road improvements, not including the airport itself, is likely to be financed by the state Department of Transportation, state officials said.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates JFK and other transit hubs, bridges and tunnels, is to implement the airport plan. The timing for that work has yet to be determined.

John F. Kennedy International Airport was called New York International Airport when it opened in 1948. It was renamed to honour assassinated President John F. Kennedy in late 1963.

- AP