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Politics

La Guardia Upgrade Boon for Astoria

NEW YORK – La Guardia Airport, the bane of many a traveler for many years, will be completely rebuilt by 2021. The plan was announced on July 27 by Vice President Joe Biden and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo at a luncheon for the Association for a Better New York.

“The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airport in northern Queens, estimates the overhaul will cost about $4 billion, most of which will go toward tearing down the Central Terminal Building, rebuilding it in place and augmenting it with a grand entry way,” the New York Times reported.

Cuomo said the plan “replaces the airport in its entirety,” and the Times wrote “the thought was to create an aesthetically pleasing, unified airport in place of the collection of disconnected terminals, decades old, that form the airport, said Daniel R. Tishman, a developer appointed by Mr. Cuomo to lead a committee to create a master plan for La Guardia.”

A year ago, the Daily News reported “Vice President Biden said blindfolded passengers might think they were in ‘some Third World country’ at LaGuardia Airport.”

So far this year, La Guardia ranked last among the 29 largest American airports in on-time departures, with slightly more than 70 percent of its flights counted as on time, according to the federal Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

A Travel & Leisure magazine survey of readers in 2012 ranked La Guardia, one of the busiest airports in the world of comparable size, as the worst airport in the nation

“The plan is expected to link its four terminals, double the space for aircraft and ease delays. The first phase of the plan — which includes moving the Central Terminal Building 600 feet closer to Grand Central Parkway to open up 2 miles of extra space for planes — will be funded by the Port Authority and the private sector. Most of the first phase will be complete by 2019; the complete overhaul by 2021,” according to the News.

There will also be a rail link between the airport and the Citi Field subway station in Flushing, and ferry service to the airport.

“This is a huge deal for New York City and for the country. To be the greatest city in the world, you have to have the greatest infrastructure in the world,” Tishman said of the project that is expected to create 8,000 construction jobs and more permanent jobs.

The new and larger will have more stores and restaurants and there is discussion about conference center and a hotel.

New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, whose district is nearby, told TNH “LaGuardia Airport has been in dire need of renovation for many years. The proposed improvements will present New York to residents and visitors alike as the great city that it is. I am particularly pleased to see the AirTran proposed in a way that will not unduly burden our existing neighborhoods.”

State Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas was also very pleased. She told TNH “Upgrading our aging infrastructure is one of the key challenges facing our country,” and added “The modernization of LaGuardia Airport also provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to address aviation noise issues that affect the quality of life for so many Queens residents.”

“The potential for a new ferry dock at LaGuardia Airport to go along with the recently announced upgrades at the airport is exciting. Bringing a new transit system to an area that sorely needs it will benefit economic development and tourism. A ferry at LaGuardia will make use of our waterfront – a vast public resource – in an environmentally-friendly way,” said City Councilman Costa Constantinides.

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