Flying through JFK? New changes coming amid $19B project to improve airport

Stacey Sager Image
Tuesday, April 25, 2023
JFK Airport to begin major reconstruction
JFK airport to undergo construction bringing major changes to the airport over the next few years.

JAMAICA, Queens (WABC) -- Anyone flying in or out of JFK Airport will start to notice big traffic changes that will impact the Air Train, a taxi pickup stand and more.

It's all because of a nearly $19 billion project to expand and improve one of the country's busiest airports.

Officials showed off renderings Tuesday that help to visualize the eventual outcome: brand new terminals 1 and 6 rebuilt and expanded from the ground up.

But the Port Authority estimates more than a few hiccups along the way.

"We don't expect things to get that bad, what we expect is that we've learned our lesson at LaGuardia," said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton.

During peak travel times at LaGuardia, Eyewitness News witnessed passengers sprinting on foot when the traffic on the roadways became unbearable. They toted luggage in the snow and fumed with frustration.

Now at Kennedy, travelers just hope history doesn't repeat itself.

Here's what you do need to know: beginning on Wednesday, the taxi pickup stand at JetBlue's terminal 5 will no longer exist. Passengers will need to walk to a secondary location.

And by Monday, the Air Train won't stop at JFK's terminal 1 -- it will be replaced by buses.

Expect many more changes, but also a state-of-the art facility that replaces the antiquated one, which was built more than five decades ago.

One of the topics still under discussion is whether or not the terminals should be renumbered or renamed. For example the brand new terminal 1 is created out of terminals 1, 2 and 3.

Some other ways officials hope to make the project less painful is an airport operations center where traffic engineers will monitor congestion in real time and serve as "traffic quarterbacks" who proactively decide their next play.

In the end, most passengers are thrilled with the new look of LaGuardia, but if you're headed to Kennedy, pack your patience between now and most likely 2026.

ALSO READ | The 'new' New York: Is it how we imagined back in 2021?

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