NEW YORK – Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday introduced a plan to redesign and rebuild LaGuardia airport, replacing the cramped, outdated hub with a unified terminal that will have more than double the space.
"Welcome to the new LaGuardia Airport," Cuomo said. "This is what New Yorkers deserve and have deserved for a long time. And now we're going to get it."
He said the current airport is a collection of cramped terminals with high volume and low ceilings, that's "un-New York."
"It's slow, it's dated, it has a terrible front-door entrance way to New York," he said.
Vice President Joe 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 attended the announcement Monday and lauded the governor for "thinking big."
Biden's influence was critical, Cuomo said — approvals that would normally take years were expedited by his office.
The first part of the plan will begin next year and cost $4 billion, half from private funding, Cuomo said. Delta Air Lines is a partner in the new terminal.
The new airport is part of an ambitious plan aimed at four of the state's airports in the New York area. Stewart Airport north of the city and Republic Airport on Long Island would both get Startup New York designation, offering new and expanding businesses to operate tax free for 10 years. Also, New York City's John F. Kennedy Airport would have its architecturally distinct Saarinen building reconfigured into a hotel.
The construction will add thousands of jobs, and help grow tourism and commerce. He said it would triple the screening space, increase concessions pace and create better connections between terminals, a new roadway system and new parking garages.
"LaGuardia and JFK are economic anchors for his city and they deserve to be the best in the world," Biden said.