2016-06-22 / Front Page

‘A New Airport For A New City’

Vice President Joe Biden and Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the gathering of dignitaries, unions, airlines, construction companies and more at the groundbreaking for the new LaGuardia state of the art airport.
Vice President Joe Biden and Governor Andrew Cuomo addressed the gathering of dignitaries, unions, airlines, construction companies and more at the groundbreaking for the new LaGuardia state of the art airport. Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced on June 16 that construction on the new LaGuardia Airport has begun – marking the first complete rebuild of an airport in the United States in more than 20 years. The Governor, joined by Vice President Joe Biden, made the announcement as construction began on a new 1.3 million square foot, state-of-the-art 35-gate terminal, along with a new west parking garage and other supporting facilities.

The groundbreaking follows a recently executed lease agreement and financial close reached by LaGuardia Gateway Partners and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey on June 1st. The new airport will begin to open to the public in 2018, with all portions of the redesigned Terminal B slated to open by the end of 2021.

Governor Cuomo warmly welcomed the Vice President, and went on to describe the genesis and plans for the new airport as follows:

“I just want to acknowledge first, Pat Foye, the Executive Director of the Port Authority, who Starting work on the new LaGuardia airport with the ground-breaking contingent, including Governor Cuomo.Photo Walter KarlingStarting work on the new LaGuardia airport with the ground-breaking contingent, including Governor Cuomo.Photo Walter Karlinghas been doing a great job, and the whole Board at the Port Authority. George Casey and the LGP team who really worked it through...Michael Minerva, American Airlines, JetBlue, United, Southwest and Air Canada, thank you for the partnership and thank you for seeing this through with us. We’ve been having good conversations with Ed Bastian and Mr. Kuykendall from Delta airlines, so we thank them and welcome them here today. Our great neighbor, Jeff Wilpon, we’re very excited about the synergy between what we’re doing here and the stadium and Willetts Point. ...we have our brothers and sisters from the labor movement here represented by Gary LaBarbera and Mario Cilento. They actually have to do the work, so let’s really give them a round of applause. And on my team, my special counsel who has really been overseeing this project and a lot of the capital construction projects. We call him a sensitive Robert Moses, Rick Cotton. Let’s give him a round of applause.

“This is an exciting day. What we are doing is exciting, how we are doing it is exciting and what it represents is exciting. This airport is really the front door to New York when you think about it. This is $20 billion in commerce. Most people who come to New York, come right through this airport and [we] have been long overdue for a new airport, as we all know.

“This is not just going to be a rebuilding of what was, this is not going to be a rebuilding of LaGuardia. It’s going to be a whole new airport – one unified contiguous, state-of-the-art airport, for the first time. It’s going to have an AirTrain that connects the entire airport from one end to the other. It’s then going to have an AirTrain that takes you right to the LIRR, so you can get right into Manhattan from the airport, and you won’t need to get into a car on the way. It’s going to have a water ferry that accesses the airport. It’s going to be a reconfigured airport, which will move closer to Grand Central Parkway by about 600 feet, which increases the flight operations by 240 percent. So you’ll have more flights coming in, flights turning around faster in a totally state-of-the-art facility. So we’re excited about that.

“The construction of it, 18,000 direct and indirect jobs. When it’s totally done, we’re looking at about a $7 billion total project for the entire airport, but it’s an investment in New York. What’s even more exciting is, we’re not just building an airport. We’re building an airport which is a piece of an entirely new vision that revitalizes New York.

“The AirTrain can take you to Penn Station and it’s going to be a new Penn Station – Moynihan Station a state-of-the-art train facility that also should’ve been redone a long time ago. It’s a new airport that’s going to be accessed by two new tracks from the Long Island Rail Road, a second and third track, so it’ll be easier for people from Long Island to actually commute, not just to this airport, but also to Penn Station.

“We’re also building an East Side Access line so that you can get from Penn Station to Grand Central Station. We’re also building an expansion of the Javits Center, a $1 billion expansion to make the Javits Center one of the most competitive convention centers in the United States. So, LaGuardia in and of itself is exciting, but LaGuardia is part of what amounts to a $100 billion infrastructure program, the largest reinvestment in New York’s infrastructure in modern history, and that’s long overdue. Part of that, is a $27 billion investment, the largest capital investment in history in the MTA, because that is going to be the future of moving more and more people through mass transit rather than through cars and I am proud to be the governor who made the largest investment in the MTA’s history and let’s thank Chairman Tom Prendergast.

“What is also important is how we are doing it. This is not the way government normally builds, and it is all going to be done through public-private sector partnerships because one of the most important things in life today is to know the things that you don’t know.

Government is not the best builder, let’s just leave it at that, okay? Government does a lot of things well, but it is not in the business of construction, development, construction management – the private sector does that. So a public-private sector partnership is where government is in full partnership with the private sector, but the private sector does the construction, does the financing and does the management.

“..it is much faster than what we have done in the past, it is what we are doing on the Tappan Zee Bridge right now. The government lays out the vision, but we go to the private sector with the vision, and they actually determine and bid the best way to build it. So it is not just the largest investment, it is not just the most ambitious. The methodology, the ‘how’ is different and is informed and is educated, and we know it is the right way to go forward because all the successful projects we have done as of late follow this model.

“So it is the “what”, it is the “how” and it is “what it symbolizes”.

“I was talking with the Vice President about this before we came out. For many years, New York sort of lost its ‘mojo,’ let’s call it. You know what made New York “New York” is its ambition, is its creativity, is its capacity. New Yorkers never said no.  There is nothing that we couldn’t do. The same thing goes for the country, we were always the first, always the best, always the most creative. [But] in the past few decades, there has been remarkably little investment in us. In our infrastructure, in our systems, in our transportation. As a matter of fact, there has been a constant deterioration of our systems over time. And you have seen other cities and other countries frankly around the globe who have been more aggressive, who have been building while we have been standing still.

I was the HUD Secretary in the Clinton Administration. I used to go into a town and as I was flying in, I would count the cranes. I would say you are either building or you are dying slowly, because either you are continuing to develop or you are falling behind because the competition is advancing their development. For many, many years, New York just stood still. It just stood still. This is the exact opposite. This is saying, ‘Yes we can, and yes we will.’  We are going to take on the big projects, we are going to take on the gutsy projects, and we are going to do it and we are going to do it quickly. No more ten-year projects. We are going to get them done quickly – the way we can get them done, because that’s what people expect – get it done well, get it done right, get it done efficiently, and get it done effectively. We have the capacity to get it done effectively and we have the capacity to do that.

“Well it’s going to be hard. It is hard to build an airport. It is hard to build a railroad track. All of it is hard, but by the way, it was always hard. It was hard when they first built this airport. It was hard when they built the Empire State Building in the middle of the Great Depression. It was hard when they built 700 miles of track underground to build the New York City subway system. It was hard in 1867 when they built a 16-mile aqueduct to Westchester to bring water down to New York City. It was always hard but we never said no.

We said yes and we did it. If it was easy, anybody could do it. We did it and that’s what makes us the leader. That’s what makes New York New York. It’s what makes America America. We never backed down from a challenge and we met every challenge with skill and ingenuity and creativity.

Now on this project, and the reason I’m so glad the Vice President is involved, is because he really did put his finger on it and he often does. When he said – and we kid him about it – was that if you landed in LaGuardia and you were blindfolded and they took off the blindfold, you would think you were in a third-world country. It was his way of saying the ‘king has no clothes,’ – and he was right. And I kidded the Vice President about that a few times because I enjoy it. Sometimes we do what we enjoy. But that actually gives the Vice President’s quite short shrift, because that’s not all of what he said. He said, ‘If you landed in the airport in Hong Kong blindfolded and you took off your blindfold you would think you were in a modern, state of the art airport. And you would think you were in the United States. If you landed in LaGuardia blindfolded, you would think you were in the third world country.’

“The Vice President’s point was more profound. They are passing us by internationally, they are developing and they are building. If you go to the Hong Kong Airport, go to the Dubai Airport, go to the European Airports and look at their front door and their invitation and what they are saying when you land, then look at this country and look at New York, the greatest state in the nation, and look at how they are moving, and it seems that we are standing still. That is what the Vice President’s point was, invest in infrastructure, invest in air transportation, it is the circulatory system of this nation, and it drives this economy. If you are not investing and you are not building you are standing still, everyone is going to pass you by. He was 100 percent right. I am just proud to be the Governor of a state who heeded his words and stepped up to the plate because he was right and what New Yorkers are saying Mr. Vice President is, ‘nobody is passing us by. You were right about the about the country, you were right about New York; and the difference is that New Yorkers are going to do something about it and we are stepping up, a $100 billion plan to rebuild the fundamental systems of this state because we are the premier city and premier state, on the globe, and we are going to stay that way and we thank you for opening our eyes and giving us that prod.

Renderings of the New LaGuardia Airport.Renderings of the New LaGuardia Airport.We also thank the Vice President because the federal government had many conditions and many roles in this airport, and although it is always a pleasure to deal with the federal government on any level, it is especially nice to have a friend in the federal government who you can call on from time to time who can be a little helpful in greasing the wheels of justice, let’s call it. The Vice President’s office was very, very helpful in expediting this project.
“We went from an announcement two years ago to groundbreaking today. That is lightning, and it would not have happened without the Vice President’s inspiration and the Vice President’s love for New York, and the Vice President’s ability.”

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