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Port Authority delays vote on $4B LaGuardia renovation

A rendering of a new Central Terminal Building

A rendering of a new Central Terminal Building proposed for LaGuardia Airport. Credit: Office of the Governor

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey delayed a vote on a massive renovation of LaGuardia Airport on Thursday, with board members saying they need more time to review the project details.

Port Authority chairman John Degnan said the level of detail and the time needed for “properly informing the board of myriad issues . . . would be hard to accomplish in time for today’s meeting.”

“We weren’t losing anything here by deferring it for one month to make sure that from a corporate governance perspective, it was done in an open, transparent way,” Degnan said.

Also removed from Thursday’s agenda was a resolution to redevelop Terminal A at Newark Liberty International Airport at a cost of about $2.3 billion.

“We look forward to approving either those resolutions or some version of those resolutions with minor modifications at the March board meeting, enthusiastically,” Degnan said.

Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye said delaying the votes for a month won’t impact preparations for the projects.

The board had been set to vote on a lease agreement and funding to replace LaGuardia’s Terminal B with a new central terminal. The roughly $4 billion public-private partnership aims to modernize the hub, derided by Vice President Joe Biden and others as a “Third World” airport.

Instead, the board Thursday approved a resolution that allows the Port Authority to continue negotiating a lease deal with LaGuardia Gateway Partners, a consortium of airport developers and operators. The board also approved up to $50 million for preliminary construction on the project, including excavation and utility work.

Degnan said the current cost estimate for the LaGuardia redevelopment — $3.93 billion, plus another $278 million for staffing, overhead, consulting costs and building a new parking deck, according to the original resolution — should not “change in a substantial way.”

At the meeting, Port Authority aviation director Thomas Bosco outlined the pressing need for replacing Terminal B, which was built in 1964 and designed to accommodate 8 million passengers a year. In 2014, it handled 13.5 million.

“While the venerable central terminal building has served us well over the past 52 years, it is clearly no longer up to the task,” Bosco said.

Travelers advocacy group Global Gateway Alliance said the surprise delay adds uncertainty.

“Now the agency should move quickly to provide clear, firm budgets and timelines that give the public confidence in the long-term viability of the entire project,” the alliance said in a statement.

The group said the Port Authority should launch a website that allows the public to track the project’s progress and hold the private developer accountable.

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