Airport officials discussed the plan to make way for larger planes and more passengers at the terminal, a project costing the Port Authority a reported $1.1 billion in parking and infrastructure improvements, with private investors making up the remaining $2.5 billion.
“This is all about the actual physical, on-the-ground infrastructure of the airport, and anything to do with aircraft routing, this does not have any impact on that,” explained Lysa Scully, deputy general manager of LaGuardia.
The terminal, built in 1964, was meant to handle 8 million customers annually. However, with numbers pushing well past 10 million since 2011, Scully explained the space would be a crucial component to the proposed plan.
“We still will accommodate 35 gates, but with 50 percent more capacity within the square feet,” she explained. “Today there are 750,000 square feet in the terminal, and we are envisioning 1.2 million [square feet] for passenger processing.”
Scully added that whichever design is chosen, the objective is to handle larger, more advanced planes to facilitate the projected spike in future air travel at the airport.
“The terminal was designed for a DC9 aircraft, and the new terminal will be designed for a 737-900, which is longer in width and wingtip,” she said. “It has an up-gauge of 20 seats per aircraft, which will get us to our future forecast.”
With preparations for construction expected to begin as soon as this year, the project has a targeted final completion date of 2021.
“Phasing is really important, and we recognize that this entire project is going to be done during active operation,” Scully said.
Joe Martinez, assistant director of development, agreed with Scully that the Port Authority’s biggest concern is keeping a fully operational facility throughout.
“It’s really going to vary depending on each of the teams,” Martinez said. “The challenges here are remaining on schedule, but also trying to keep the same traffic flow. It’s all about how much can you do and how much can you take away.”
Edward Knoesel, senior manager for environmental and noise programs with the Port Authority, said he is confident the project has been effectively scrutinized and will have no impact on the surrounding environment.
“You have to look at all the environmental impacts,” Knoesel said. “Noise, traffic; we wanted to make sure that our analyses was complete, that it covered everything to give the FAA the comfort that they know that we analyzed the topic to the fullest, so they can make an important decision on whether or not the planes will have a significant impact.”
Edward Knoesel, senior manager for Environmental and Noise Programs with the Port Authority.
Community members look over the plans for the future of LaGuardia Airport.