NEW YORK (WABC) -- A new concourse with 12 gates is opening this weekend at LaGuardia Airport.
The new gates come with additional dining and shopping options for passengers using LaGuardia, part of a broader $8 billion overhaul at the dilapidated facility that will add 72 new gates in six concourses, as well as two new arrival and departure halls.
Other planned improvements include rail service between LaGuardia and midtown Manhattan and 14 miles of new roadway connecting motorists to the facility.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined local officials in Queens on Thursday for a ceremonial opening.
"The opening of the first new concourse and gates at Terminal B marks another significant milestone in the transformation of LaGuardia Airport into a modern, global gateway that is worthy of the State of New York," Cuomo said. "While leaders in Washington only talk about investing in infrastructure, in New York we are actually getting it done, and now travelers from across the world will start to see and experience a whole new LaGuardia."
The first new gates represent another step forward in the complex, multi-phase construction plan designed to enable the 30-million passengers-a-year airport to remain fully operational while the entire airport is rebuilt. Under the plan, old facilities are demolished only as new facilities are completed, ensuring the airport never loses capacity.
The new concourse is designed with soaring 55-foot high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows that allow ample natural light to fill space, which includes an indoor park with benches, landscaping and real trees. Charging stations are placed throughout the gate seating areas, with free, fast and unlimited high-speed Wi-Fi enabling travelers to surf, search and stream while they wait.
Family amenities include an airport-themed children's play area, family-friendly restrooms and a private nursing room. Large, modern restrooms include spacious stalls and above-sink shelves designed to keep belongings dry.
More than a dozen concessions in the new concourse include New York-inspired food, beverage and retail options, with the ability for passengers to have food delivered directly to their gate.
Restaurants include Shake Shack, La Chula, Osteria Fusco, Kingside and Irving Farm Coffee, and retail venues include an FAO Schwarz toy store, McNally Jackson independent bookseller and District Market.
Cuomo first unveiled the vision for a comprehensive redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport in 2015, and the project broke ground in 2016. When completed, the new 2.7 million square foot LaGuardia Airport will be the first new airport built in the U.S. in more than 25 years.
The new airport will comprise $8 billion in new facilities. On the western side of the airport, the new $4 billion Terminal B is replacing the obsolete terminal that opened more than 50 years ago.
The terminal will have a total of 35 gates, including the first 11 opening this weekend and seven more coming into service in early 2020. Dual pedestrian bridges will rise over active plane taxi lanes, connecting the main departures and arrivals hall that will open in 2020 with the two island concourses, offering travelers views of the Manhattan skyline as they head to and from their gates.
On the eastern side of the airport, Delta Air Lines' new $4 billion Terminal C, which broke ground in August 2017, will ultimately comprise a total 37 gates. The new Terminal C will replace the existing Terminals C and D and is scheduled to open in 2021.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report)
* Follow us on YouTube
* More local news
* Send us a news tip
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
1st new concourse opening at LaGuardia Airport in Queens