Construction at Kennedy Airport's Terminal 6, part of a huge two-year...

Construction at Kennedy Airport's Terminal 6, part of a huge two-year project aimed at transforming the airport. Credit: Danielle Silverman

The executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey made an urgent appeal to passengers headed this summer to Kennedy Airport, which is undergoing an unprecedented $19 billion construction project: Take mass transit to get there.

“We are asking everyone, use mass transit when coming to JFK this summer,” Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority, said in a news conference earlier this week. He added, “Leave extra time. And if you must drive, plan to use remote lots … We are pleading with people to access the airport by not coming into the close-in terminal area. That is what has the potential for the most congestion.”

He said the massive construction over the next two years, which will create two new international terminals and a new roadway network, seeks to transform Kennedy “into a world-class facility that will compare favorably to any airport in the country and abroad.”

The rebuilding of Kennedy comes as the start of the summer travel season — projected to attract a record number of travelers — gets underway. “The forecast for record summer travel will add to the potential for congestion,” Cotton said. “Nearly three-quarters of a million more passengers will pass through JFK than last summer.”

One airline industry analyst said the summer travel season was the “worst time” to begin what Cotton called an “unprecedented” construction project that was “the largest that JFK or any U.S. airport has ever undertaken.”

Robert Mann, president of R.W. Mann & Company, Inc., an independent airline industry analysis firm in Port Washington, and a former airline executive, said while there is probably “never a good time” to do such a construction project, “this is the worst time to do it. It’s peak travel season with peak passenger loads, peak arrivals and departures by customers at the airport. So peak disruption.”

Port Authority officials outlined a traffic management plan that involves an airport operations center staffed 24/7 to coordinate traffic and make adjustments when necessary; public messaging and mapping platform updates in “real time.”

Jessica Forse, program executive for JFK redevelopment, said at the news conference the construction will result in “reduced capacity to handle vehicles.” She said there will be long-term traffic pattern changes and detours beginning in June.

Forse said there will be “significant impact to parking.” As a result, Port Authority officials urged people to use the free waiting lots, farther from the airport, including a new “Easy Lot,” opening in June, and urged them to pre-book their parking space at JFKAirport.com.

The Port Authority also urged travelers use the AirTrain at Jamaica Station or Howard Beach. Travelers from Long Island can take the Long Island Rail Road to Jamaica station to the AirTrain, Cotton noted.

A spokesman for AAA Northeast, Alec Slatky, called the AirTrain “definitely a good option,” and echoed Cotton in urging people to leave extra time when traveling to Kennedy.

“We ask for travelers' patience,” Cotton said. “And we apologize in advance for the inconvenience that people may experience. But we are employing every ounce of strength that we have to minimize the congestion. We appreciate everyone's understanding, and believe that where we're headed will be worth the wait and any inconvenience people experience.”

The executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey made an urgent appeal to passengers headed this summer to Kennedy Airport, which is undergoing an unprecedented $19 billion construction project: Take mass transit to get there.

“We are asking everyone, use mass transit when coming to JFK this summer,” Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority, said in a news conference earlier this week. He added, “Leave extra time. And if you must drive, plan to use remote lots … We are pleading with people to access the airport by not coming into the close-in terminal area. That is what has the potential for the most congestion.”

He said the massive construction over the next two years, which will create two new international terminals and a new roadway network, seeks to transform Kennedy “into a world-class facility that will compare favorably to any airport in the country and abroad.”

The rebuilding of Kennedy comes as the start of the summer travel season — projected to attract a record number of travelers — gets underway. “The forecast for record summer travel will add to the potential for congestion,” Cotton said. “Nearly three-quarters of a million more passengers will pass through JFK than last summer.”

One airline industry analyst said the summer travel season was the “worst time” to begin what Cotton called an “unprecedented” construction project that was “the largest that JFK or any U.S. airport has ever undertaken.”

Robert Mann, president of R.W. Mann & Company, Inc., an independent airline industry analysis firm in Port Washington, and a former airline executive, said while there is probably “never a good time” to do such a construction project, “this is the worst time to do it. It’s peak travel season with peak passenger loads, peak arrivals and departures by customers at the airport. So peak disruption.”

Port Authority officials outlined a traffic management plan that involves an airport operations center staffed 24/7 to coordinate traffic and make adjustments when necessary; public messaging and mapping platform updates in “real time.”

Jessica Forse, program executive for JFK redevelopment, said at the news conference the construction will result in “reduced capacity to handle vehicles.” She said there will be long-term traffic pattern changes and detours beginning in June.

Forse said there will be “significant impact to parking.” As a result, Port Authority officials urged people to use the free waiting lots, farther from the airport, including a new “Easy Lot,” opening in June, and urged them to pre-book their parking space at JFKAirport.com.

The Port Authority also urged travelers use the AirTrain at Jamaica Station or Howard Beach. Travelers from Long Island can take the Long Island Rail Road to Jamaica station to the AirTrain, Cotton noted.

A spokesman for AAA Northeast, Alec Slatky, called the AirTrain “definitely a good option,” and echoed Cotton in urging people to leave extra time when traveling to Kennedy.

“We ask for travelers' patience,” Cotton said. “And we apologize in advance for the inconvenience that people may experience. But we are employing every ounce of strength that we have to minimize the congestion. We appreciate everyone's understanding, and believe that where we're headed will be worth the wait and any inconvenience people experience.”

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