NEW YORK: New York governor Andrew Cuomo has announced plans to re-design New York's JFK and LaGuardia airports as part of a US$17 billion strategy aimed at transforming the state's infrastructure and transportation networks.
At an event to host U.S. vice president Joe Biden, Cuomo said the master plan also includes developing Stewart airport, some 60 miles north of Manhattan, as a regional cargo hub to relieve JFK "of most of its cargo facilities...to make room for new amenities and services".
Describing Stewart as "strategically positioned to expand into a larger air cargo role", Cuomo said he wanted to create a tax-free zone to encourage companies to move "back office manufacturing into one connected major distribution center" at Stewart. Under the program companies creating jobs in the new zone will get a 10-year tax break.
Owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey since 2007, FedEx and UPS currently provide cargo services to the airport and the U.S. Postal service operates a regional distribution center. The federal government is building a US$20 million international inspection facility at Stewart that will be ready by 2017.
Commenting on the plans, Cuomo said: "The number one job of government is to promote economic growth and prosperity, and one of the best ways to drive commerce is by investing in infrastructure that connects New York with local, national and international markets. This is more important for New York than ever before, which is why the state is ambitiously investing in roads, bridges and tunnels on a scale that we haven't seen in decades."
The governor added the modernization plan addresses how New York's airports must work together to grow the city's economy.
Located at the intersection of Interstates 87 and 84, Cuomo said Stewart is perfectly situated as a new air cargo hub with Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, DC, Boston, Buffalo, Toronto and Montreal within a 250 mile radius.
Constructed in 1939 and 1960 respectively, last year LaGuardia and JFK generated US$53 billion in economic activity to the New York-New Jersey metropolitan region while Stewart added a further US$750 million. Cuomo did not give a time-frame for the completion of his airport modernisation program.