MIDTOWN — LaGuardia Airport will be rebuilt with a new $4 billion central terminal that will add 240 percent more plane taxi space and will eventually include an Airtrain and a high-speed ferry, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Monday.
"It is a terrible front door entryway to New York," Cuomo said. "It is almost universally decried as a poor representation for an airport, let alone a New York airport."
Cuomo announced the plan at a luncheon for the Association for a Better New York, which Vice President Joseph Biden also attended.
The governor said the plan will launch in the first part of 2016 and is expected to open to passengers in 2019 with full completion 18 months later.
LaGuardia is frequently regarded as the worst airport in the country because of its crowding, delays and unappealing terminals.
Biden said LaGuardia looked like a "third world country" last year, and Cuomo said that helped to spur the push to overhaul the airport.
"I wish everything I said that was truthful but controversial would turn out this way," Biden said.
Under the new plan, which still requires final approval from the Port Authority's board of directors, Terminal B will be demolished and replaced with a larger structure that is 600 feet closer to the Grand Central Parkway.
The new terminal will serve as the central arrival and departure space and connect with Delta's C and D terminals.
The eastern part of new unified terminal will be constructed on a "parallel track" by Delta, which will also redevelop its existing terminals closer to the parkway.
After trying to come up with a new master plan for the airport, Cuomo said the Port Authority determined "there is no way to fix this. We need to literally tear it down and rebuild it."
Delta's cooperation was key to getting the project off the ground, the governor added.
Passengers will access their gates using pedestrian bridges that will be high enough to allow airplanes to taxi underneath. Combined with moving the terminals closer to the parkway, 2 miles of new airplane taxi space will be created, cutting taxi times and reducing the delays LaGuardia has become known for.
"This is what New York has deserved for a long time and now we are going to get it," Cuomo said.
Half of the $4 billion will come from private money. However, the funding source for an Airtrain connection to Willets Point or a high-speed ferry dock is unclear.
"We don't know specifically how it would be funded," Port authority Executive Director Patrick Foye said.
Also unclear is how flights at the busy airport will be affected during construction. Foye said he envisioned times when airplane departure and arrival would have to be halted while construction materials are moved around the airport.
The plan received both exuberant and cautious praise.
In a video, former President Bill Clinton called LaGuardia Airport a "national treasure" and said the new LaGuardia will "lead us into the future."
Global Gateway Alliance Chairman and Founder Joseph Sitt called the announcement "an important step in bringing New York’s airports closer to par with competitors around the nation and the world."
Sitt cautioned about the importance of sticking to the announced timelines and having a clear and transparent budget.
“For too long, our airports have been caught in big modernization plans and small actions. Today’s announcement should signal the beginning of a new era of fast and efficient overhauls to the region’s vital gateways," Sitt said.