NEW YORK, July 28 (UPI) -- LaGuardia Airport, long the butt of jokes and the dread of travelers, is getting a $4 billion overhaul that will essentially see the airport completely reconstructed by 2021.
Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Vice President Joe Biden announced the makeover will level the mishmash of decades-old buildings and shoddy public transportation connections to the airport and transform it into a "single, structurally unified main terminal with expanded transportation access, significantly increased taxiway space and best-in-class passenger amenities."
"LaGuardia is slow. It's dated. It is a terrible front door entranceway," Cuomo said. "We are transforming LaGuardia into a globally-renowned, 21st century airport that is worthy of the city and state of New York."
As one of New York's major air hubs, LaGuardia handles some 27 million passengers a year. Often the first building passengers see is the Central Terminal, also known as Terminal B, which is home to most of the airport's domestic airlines. When it was built in the early 1960s, it was considered cutting-edge modern design. Today, it looks rundown and tired. Last year, Biden famously compared LaGuardia to a "third world country."
"I wish everything I said that's truthful -- but controversial -- would turn out this way," Biden said at the announcement.
Groundbreaking construction is expected in 2016 and should to take up to five years. Among the projects, Terminal B will be demolished and reconstructed. All four terminals will be united under one roof. The redesign will include a pedestrian bridge high enough for aircraft to taxi underneath.
"This allows for a more efficient circulation of aircraft and reduced taxi-in and taxi-out times, which will yield shorter and fewer gate delays – a dramatic difference from today's LaGuardia," the governor's office said.
In a 2012, a survey completed by Travel & Leisure magazine found LaGuardia to be the "worst for the check-in and security process, the worst for baggage handling, the worst when it comes to providing Wi-Fi, the worst at staff communication, and the worst design and cleanliness."