- New York City's LaGuardia Airport opened its second skybridge to passengers on Jan. 28, marking the final milestone of the nearly six-year renovation of Terminal B. The old airport was notorious for its poor condition; former Gov. Andrew Cuomo called it "outdated, overcrowded and unworthy of the Empire State."
- The Terminal B renovation is valued at $5.1 billion, including $4 billion in construction costs, and the project overall has a price tag of $8 billion. LaGuardia Gateway Partners (LGP), the public-private partnership that manages the project, is made up of Vantage Airport Group, Skanska, Meridiam and JLC Infrastructure. A Skanska-Walsh joint venture led design-build work, while HOK and WPS were responsible for architecture and engineering.
- The overall project is now about 95% complete, according to a spokesperson for LaGuardia Gateway Partners. The final piece of the original terminal must be demolished in order to open the remaining gates and the taxiway underneath the new western skybridge. Skanksa-Walsh is doing the remaining work.
The redesigned central terminal has 35 gates across two concourses and features retail space spanning four stories and an 850,000-square-foot Arrivals & Departures Hall which houses check-in, baggage claim and security screening. The new 485-foot skybridge offers a direct route between the western concourse and the Arrivals & Departures Hall with views of the Manhattan skyline. It stretches over active airplane taxi lanes, and was built with over 2,500 tons of steel.
LaGuardia is the only airport in the world to have dual pedestrian skybridges, according to airport officials. The first new skybridge serving the eastern concourse opened in May. During the renovation, the side-by-side design allowed for a new span to be erected without interrupting terminal operations, and also adds an extra 2 miles of much-needed taxiway space.
Renovation of Terminal B has been a long time coming. Vantage has been leading the project since the Port Authority started plans back in 2011, and pushed through financing and the leasing process in 2016, according to a Vantage press release. About $2.5 billion in funding was raised from project bonds, $1.5 billion came from the Port Authority and $200 million in equity came from LGP principal shareholders. It's the largest public-private partnership in U.S. aviation, according to Vantage.
LGP said in a press release that the project is on track to be completed on time and on budget. When asked how, an LGP spokesperson said, "LaGuardia Gateway Partners made a commitment to all of our partners and investors to deliver the new Terminal B on time and on budget. Thanks to our innovative phasing plan, teamwork, tireless effort and skilled work, we are achieving this."
The renovation has received praise locally and internationally. LaGuardia's Terminal B was awarded the 2021 UNESCO 2021 Prix Versailles, a global architecture and design award for best new airport. It also received LEED Gold certification for its sustainability efforts, according to the Port Authority, as well as an Excellence in Structural Engineering Award from the National Council of Structural Engineers Associations.
"We have gone from worst to best, something no one thought was possible when this project began," Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, said in a press release.
The terminal was built to provide 43% in water savings and an 18% reduction in energy costs. Most of the debris from Terminal B's garage demolition were repurposed for the new construction, according to the Port Authority, and even the baggage handling system was designed to save on energy, with a sleep mode that only moves when bags are present.
Renovations in other parts of the airport are ongoing, and Terminal C is expected to be completed in spring 2022. Questions around how to improve connectivity to the airport also remain, according to the New York Times, after New York Gov. Kathy Hochul nixed Cuomo's plans to build a LaGuardia AirTrain in October. Port Authority and LaGuardia officials are trying to figure out how to best transport passengers, and are studying other transit links like an extension of the N train from the Astoria neighborhood.