Navigating LaGuardia Airport traffic will hopefully get a bit easier with the opening of a new flyover highway on Wednesday.
The new elevated roadway connects Grand Central Parkway Exit 7 to Terminals C and D, providing a streamlined route for drivers looking to get to Delta gates.
“Eastbound Exit 7 is the main exit drivers take coming to the airport from Manhattan or the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway,” Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton told reporters on Tuesday. “This particular new flyover will, at the beginning, be the primary roadway or overpass for vehicles crossing to the east side of LaGuardia Airport.”
The flyover highway is one piece of the $8 billion effort to rebuild LaGuardia Airport, officials said. As part of that, the transportation hub’s roadway network has been redesigned and re-engineered.
“This flyover is just the first, though perhaps the most critical, of 26 new bridges that will come online over the next three years to improve airport traffic flow as the redevelopment of LaGuardia airport continues,” Cotton said.
Both Cotton and Gov. Andrew Cuomo noted that LaGuardia Airport is has a “tangle” of roads — or, as the governor put it, “a spaghetti bowl of roadways” — that has made navigating the airport confusing, time-consuming and treacherous for travelers.
The eastbound Grand Central Parkway Exit 7 flyover is anticipated to handle “20 percent initially of the airport’s total inbound traffic,” per Cuomo’s office. Officials anticipate it will relieve traffic congestion immediately even as LaGuardia Airport undergoes more construction. Traffic headed to Terminals C and D will be entirely diverted to this flyover highway, which will serve as an exclusive access point to the eastern half of the airport.
Before construction began, LaGuardia Airport had 19 different traffic signals to control the flow of vehicles around its “hodgepodge of separate terminals,” Cotton said. When the modernization effort is complete, there will be only three traffic signals.
“The new roadway network will have vastly improved wayfinding signage, vastly improved lighting and vastly improved traffic flow,” Cotton said. “That is the benefit of master planning and thinking big.”
LaGuardia Airport Construction: More to Come
Along with a new traffic pattern, other LaGuardia Airport construction efforts are currently in the works. A new Terminal B parking garage will create space for 3,000 vehicles along with a dedicated level for Uber, Lyft and other car services. The new Terminal B headhouse, the main part of the facilities for LaGuardia Airport’s western half, is scheduled to open in early 2020.
Cuomo noted that revamping LaGuardia Airport is a large project that will cause some local inconvenience during construction, but will have a long-term benefit. This will be the first entirely new airport built in the United States in 25 years.
“This airport is not just going to be new and easier to navigate,” Cuomo said at the flyover highway ribbon cutting on Tuesday, “It’s going to have an AirTrain, finally, so you can get into Manhattan. It’s going to have a high-speed ferry. It’s going to have more parking than ever before. It’s going to be a totally new and better airport.”