Transforming JFK for the 21st Century

TOP Transforming JFK for the 21st Century
The Vision

JFK Airport is an iconic gateway welcoming more international passengers to the United States than any other airport in the country and is expected to grow dramatically over the next several decades. Based on the recommendations of the Governor’s Airport Advisory Panel, the vision plan lays out a comprehensive, airport-wide framework to create a unified, world-class airport. In order to accommodate the dramatic expected growth at the airport and keep New York’s economy moving forward, Governor Cuomo has set forth a transformative vision for JFK.

The vision plan addresses three key areas:

  1. Transform JFK into a unified, interconnected, world-class airport
  2. Improve road access to the airport
  3. Expand rail mass transit to meet projected passenger growth

By setting a new course at JFK, the airport has the potential to drive up to $7 billion in private investment for this transformation.

The on-airport transformation focuses on six core areas:

  1. Create a unified, interconnected terminal layout
  2. Redesign the on-airport traffic pattern
  3. Centralize parking lots
  4. Ensure world-class amenities
  5. Expanded taxiways
  6. State-of-the-art security technology
On-Airport Transformation
On-Airport Transformation

To accommodate the growing demand, JFK will be transformed to provide a consistent, word-class, and secure passenger experience. The on-airport transformation will focus the following areas:

Creating a Unified Airport

Improve the existing terminal configuration with a more unified framework to make it easier for passengers to connect between terminals.

  • Interconnected Terminals: Expanding newer terminals and redeveloping and relocating older ones will create a more fluid experience for passengers making connections.
  • Fixing JFK’s On-Airport Roads and Parking: To reduce multiple bottlenecks and chokepoints the current spaghetti-network of on-airport roads will be transformed into a “ring road” approach. This will allow for easier and quicker access to all terminals including for taxis, ride sharing, and for-hire vehicles. Additionally, new centralized parking lots within the “ring road” will allow for clear, airport-wide short term and long term parking options.

A World-Class JFK

As terminals are redeveloped and expanded, the vision calls for ensuring that they have a consistent set of high standards ensuring world-class amenities.

  • Amenities Standards: These amenities should include fine dining, duty-free shopping, best-in-class retail, and conference and meeting room facilities. This process began last month with the groundbreaking of the new TWA Flight Center Hotel. 
  • Airside Improvements: Expanded taxiways will result in fewer ground delays and working with the FAA to increase the airport’s number of flight slots will accommodate the airport’s passenger growth.
  • Securing JFK for the 21st Century: Insuring state-of-the-art security technology and regular reviews, including participation of third-party global experts will assure the airport’s security technology is in line with the latest global best practices. This includes implementing four safety recommendations at the airport:
    • Establish a single, unified operations protocol for all security forces on the premises
    • Joint training between security agencies
    • Streamlining evacuation of airport facilities during emergency events
    • Implementing the national training for all airport workers’ emergency response in partnership with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security
  • Public Art – JFK Gateway Design Competition: A design competition at the 20 crossings over highways that lead out of JFK will use public art to welcome travelers to New York and the region.

Leveraging Private Investment

The transformation of JFK can drive up to $7 billion in private investment. Much like the successful LaGuardia Airport redevelopment project, the panel believes there is the potential to leverage significant private sector investment to deliver a new JFK. 

Improve Road Access
Improve Road Access

Today’s travel times to JFK are unpredictable and range anywhere from 35 minutes to two hours. Governor Cuomo is directing the New York State Department of Transportation to undertake $1.5-$2 billion in improvements to address two major bottlenecks.

  • Kew Gardens Interchange: The State DOT will expand lane capacity on the connector ramps between the at the interchange between the Grand Central Parkway, the Van Wyck Expressway, the Jackie Robinson Parkway and Union Turnpike. The State Department of Transportation will expand lane capacity on the connector ramps between the Grand Central and Van Wyck both directions from two lanes to three lanes in both directions.
  • Van Wyck Expressway: On the Van Wyck Expressway, DOT will increase the number of lanes from three lanes in each direction to four lanes within the highway’s existing right-of-way. These two new lanes will be “managed use lanes” to allow for adjustments depending on demand – including for express bus or HOV service.

These enhancements to New York’s roadway network will have significant benefits:

  • Changes to Grand Central/Van Wyck interchange and the Van Wyck itself will save motorists a combined travel time of 7.4 million hours annually going to and from JFK.
  • Reductions in traffic will directly improve air quality by cutting emissions and reducing fuel consumption. These changes will cut emissions an estimated 30%, save 10.8 million gallons of fuel and $27 million.
  • Diversions of highway traffic away from local streets will reduce disruptive noise and congestion in the surrounding community.
Expand Rail Mass Transit
Expand Rail Mass Transit

In response to the projected dramatic growth of the number of passengers at JFK, expanding rail mass transit is a priority.

Option 1: Expand JFK AirTrain

  • Increase the capacity from two to four cars per train and increase its frequency allowing the AirTrain to roughly double its capacity and handle more than 40 million passengers annually.
  • Improve the ease of connection from the subway and LIRR at Jamaica and Sutphin Blvd stations with a complete overhaul of the connections to the JFK AirTrain. Improvements will include modern amenities such as high-performance elevators and escalators, charging stations and expanded walkways. A modernized mezzanine will create simpler navigation and smoother transfers to the AirTrain including improved wayfinding and LED flight status screens.

Option 2: Explore the feasibility of one-seat ride to JFK

  • JFK is one of the only major airports in the world that does not offer travelers a one-seat ride from its city center. Therefore, the Panel recommends that the MTA and its partners jointly explore the feasibility of a one-seat ride to JFK.
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