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Cuomo pitches $10B modernization plan for Kennedy Airport

JFK Transformation rendering

JFK Transformation rendering Credit: Governor office

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled his vision Wednesday for a modernized Kennedy Airport experience, saying a $10 billion investment could dramatically improve how people maneuver the terminals, surrounding roads and mass transit system.

He said the state is exploring a “one-seat ride” — a direct trip between New York City and the airport.

The idea is one of many that would help Kennedy Airport keep pace with other international facilities, said Cuomo, a Democrat, who called for a more ambitious approach to infrastructure.

“Be bold, make a statement,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be the least expensive construction. You’re building for 100 years; build something that people are proud of.”

Cuomo and transportation officials laid out recommendations by his airport advisory panel at a Manhattan luncheon hosted by the pro-business Association for a Better New York.

The governor lamented that Kennedy Airport ranks 59th among the world’s top 100 airports and LaGuardia Airport didn’t even make the list.

At the airport itself, the panel wants interconnected terminals, a road that rings the facility and expanded taxiways.

For vehicular traffic, they want the elimination of bottlenecks on the Van Wyck Expressway and Kew Gardens Interchange.

For mass transit, they want more frequent, higher-capacity AirTrain rides or the “one-seat ride.”

Outgoing MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast drew chuckles from the audience when he spoke about “schlepping” through Jamaica Station, where the subway, the LIRR and the AirTrain connect.

“This transfer is hardly a world-class experience,” he said.

Airport Advisory Panel chairman Dan Tishman, chief executive of Tishman Construction Co., said the Kennedy Airport plan could drive up to $7 billion in private investment.

The price tag for the development was estimated at $7 billion to $8 billion for the airport work and $1.5 billion to $2 billion for the roadway improvements by the state Department of Transportation. There isn’t a figure yet for the mass transit redevelopment, because officials are exploring options, Cuomo said.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz lauded Cuomo for also “accounting for its impact on surrounding communities.”

Joe Sitt, founder of real estate development group Thor Equities, on behalf of transit advocate Global Gateway Alliance, urged that the one-seat ride “move from ‘exploring’ to ‘doing.’ ”

Owen Gutfreund, Hunter College associate professor of urban affairs and planning, said that improving the AirTrain’s frequency and reliability would be beneficial — but not as much as creating a one-seat ride.

With Vincent Barone

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