Last Thursday, the Port Authority and LaGuardia Gateway Partners celebrated the opening of seven new gates in Terminal B’s Western Concourse.
The seven new gates of the 250,000-square-foot, four-level concourse will open to the public on August 5, one month ahead of schedule. It will service American Airlines.
In a statement, Port Authority executive director Rick Cotton said the opening is part of the “fast progress” as the project nears the finish line.
“Construction of a whole new LaGuardia Airport continues full speed ahead with this summer’s opening of the new Arrivals and Departures Hall, the early opening of the new concourse and gates, and completion of nearly 75 percent of all roadway work due to the reduction in traffic,” Cotton said.
The Arrivals and Departures Hall, otherwise known as the Headhouse, opened in June and serves as the central entry point for travelers flying out of Terminal B.
The western concourse, meanwhile, will feature 55-foot-high ceilings and floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for natural light. It also contains modern restrooms, an indoor park with benches and trees and other amenities.
It will be a near replica of the eastern concourse, which opened in December 2018. Altogether, the new concourse will house 18 total gates.
“We are thrilled to be one step closer to completing this project,” said Stewart Steeves, CEO of LaGuardia Gateway Partners, which was selected by the Port Authority to manage the rebuild. “The new terminal will combine world-class customer experience with innovative design, creating a gateway that all New Yorkers can be proud of.”
Skanska-Walsh, the joint venture responsible for the construction and design of the project, also completed the construction of 17 new bridges, eight miles of new roadways and nearly two miles of taxiway space.
The company said that will not only improve aircraft circulation and reduce taxi times, but also lower carbon emissions from idling aircraft.
Opening these gates ahead of schedule with an exceptional safety performance is a testament to the diligence and tireless dedication of our team, subcontractors and partners,” said Richard Kennedy, president and CEO of Skanska USA. “An exceptional feat in light of a global pandemic.”
While the transformation of LaGuardia is nearing completion, another high-profile project for the airport may be stalled.
Last week, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez released a statement declaring that she is opposed to the use of federal relief funds for the construction of the $2 billion AirTrain.
The announcement comes a month after opponents of the AirTrain, including the Guardians of Flushing Bay, Ditmars Boulevard Block Association and Community Board 3, penned a letter to congressional representatives to ask them to reject the Port Authority’s $3 billion request for federal aid.
In her statement, Ocasio-Cortez said the communities surrounding the airport were among the hardest hit by COVID-19. Now, many residents are facing evictions and other consequences of the pandemic.
“These families have been crying out for relief for months,” she said. “While state and local funding is desperately needed in the next COVID-19 relief package, it would be the ultimate insult to finally send aid to this community in the form of a project that they firmly oppose and that could further jeopardize their health and safety.”
Like the opponents of the AirTrain project, the congresswoman, who represents the area that includes LaGuardia Airport, said the proposed Willets Point route will likely lead to further overcrowding on the 7 train.
She also raised ecological concerns about the construction of the AirTrain through parks and marshland.
Finally, Ocasio-Cortez objected to the “general disregard for community input” for the project. She noted that over half of public comments submitted about the AirTrain were in opposition.
“Until such time as a new route is identified or the community’s concerns are sufficiently alleviated,” she said, “no federal COVID-19 relief funding should be granted to the Port Authority for the purpose of constructing the AirTrain.”