The total cost of rebuilding LaGuardia Airport will be in the ballpark of $7 billion, and according to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that’s a small price to pay to shed an oft-repeated comparison to a Third World Country.
“You are either building and growing or you are dying slowly,” Cuomo said on Tuesday. “You are either advancing your development or your competition is advancing their development.”
Cuomo, alongside Vice President Joe Biden, announced on Tuesday the start of the first phase of LaGuardia’s redevelopment. The first phase, which includes the demolition and replacement of the airport’s central terminal, will cost an estimated $4 billion, most of which is being paid through private financing — though some Port Authority officials have argued that that figure excludes money already spent on the airport, bringing the figure above $5 billion.
The additional $3 billion included in the governor’s latest figure is based on the investments expected from airlines to pay for the redevelopment of Terminals C and D. Officials with Delta, which operates those two terminals, said on Tuesday that the airline is in “advanced discussions” with the Port Authority to redevelop the terminals. That $7 billion price tag, however, does not include the air train or the ferry terminal proposed for the airport.
Both Cuomo, who’s positioned himself as something of a Robert Moses for modern times, and Biden sermonized on the desperate need for modern infrastructure and how the United States is lagging behind other countries. Biden, whose comparison of LaGuardia to a Third World country is often evoked by Cuomo, repeatedly praised the governor during Tuesday’s press conference and bemoaned the lack of funding dedicated to infrastructure in other areas of the country.
“It’s the single best bang for the buck that we can do,” Biden said. “Governor, I just hope that more governors listen to you.”
The groundbreaking comes roughly a year after officials announced that LaGuardia Gateway Partners — which includes Skanska, Vantage Airport Group and Meridiam Infrastructure — would design, build, finance and operate the first phase of the airport project. This phase of the redevelopment is expected to take three years, while the entire project will take roughly five, Cuomo said. He touted the project’s use of design-build, a delivery system that is often considered a time and money saver that shifts risk to the construction team.
“No more 10 year projects,” he said. “We are going to get them done and get them done quickly.”