Vice President Joe Biden flew to New York on Tuesday, joining Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo at a news conference announcing that ground was being broken for the start of a $4 billion makeover of LaGuardia Airport.
Biden praised the governor for his push to improve the state’s infrastructure. “Thank you for leading the way,” Biden said at a Port Authority police facility just a shuttle ride away from where the new Central Terminal will be built over the next three to five years.
The terminal will feature two pedestrian bridges travelers can use to walk above airplane taxi lanes while moving between the terminal and the two concourses where aircraft park, the project’s developer, LaGuardia Gateway Partners, said earlier this month, adding that the use of bridges and island-like concourses was a first for an airport.
The vice president left before the ceremonial groundbreaking outside the hangar-like police facility, where birds chirped in the upper reaches and jets taxied past in the background as officials spoke.
Cuomo and the Port Authority announced the overhaul earlier this month of LaGuardia’s main terminal at an airport Biden once likened to those in a “Third World country.”
The existing main terminal, Terminal B, is used by eight airlines, including American, Jet Blue and United. Negotiations are continuing for the redevelopment of Terminal C to the east, home to Delta Air Lines.
Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye told the audience that his agency, which operates the airport, was in “advanced discussions” with Delta.
The new Terminal B is financed through public and private funds. The terminal will be built and operated by the private partnership under a lease, signed June 1, that runs through 2050.
“LaGuardia is a key driver of New York’s economy and transportation network, but for far too long it has been outdated, overcrowded and unworthy of the Empire State,” Cuomo said.
Unlike the current Terminal B — where travelers must pass through a separate security checkpoint to access each of the four main concourses — the new Central Terminal Building will feature one security checkpoint providing travelers with access to all concourses, according to the developer, which took over operations from the Port Authority this month.