• LaGuardia Airport: Rehab it or raze it?

    LaGuardia Airport is pretty well locked in place, thanks to the water surrounding it on three sides. (Photo by Eric Salard)

    LaGuardia Airport is pretty well locked in place, thanks to the water surrounding it on three sides. (Photo by Eric Salard)

    CWT Savvy Traveler
    There are some amazing amenities in airports worldwide these days, with airports around the world offering services that get them onto most travelers’ lists of favorite places to fly.

    New York’s LaGuardia Airport, not surprisingly, is never on those lists. In 2014, U.S. vice president Joe Biden likened it to an experience one might expect to see in “some third world country.”

    Having flown into and out of LaGuardia more times than I care to remember, it’s hard for me to argue. So when I read an op-ed piece today in the New York Times it got me wondering whether it makes sense to even keep the airport open.

    George Haikalis, who is a civil engineer and transportation planner, and a former official at what is now the New York Metropolitan Transportation Council, argued that instead of deciding between a pair of proposals which would spend $4 billion apiece on rehabilitating LaGuardia’s central terminal, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey should consider simply closing the airport altogether.

    LaGuardia is similar to Washington Reagan National Airport, also a landlocked airport which serves limited destinations because of restrictions. LaGuardia generally serves U.S. airports within 1,500 miles, plus Denver, with a few exceptions. Reagan National’s terminals were completely redone in the late 1990s. LaGuardia’s Central Terminal Building, which opened in 1964, is in need of similar work.

    Haikalis argues: “The money budgeted for the LaGuardia upgrades would be better used to create a long-proposed one-ride express-rail link between Manhattan and JFK, by reviving a long-disused, 3.5-mile stretch of track in central Queens and completing the modernization of the terminals at Kennedy. Currently, passengers who use the AirTrain to reach Kennedy must transfer from subways or the Long Island Rail Road. A world-class, direct rail trip to Kennedy could match the current travel time of even a fast, off-peak car trip to LaGuardia.”

    Does it make sense to rebuild LaGuardia, or close it down and shift the traffic to JFK and Newark? Vote in our poll and post a comment below with your opinion!