EAST ELMHURST —A fired up Vice President Joe Biden returned Tuesday to LaGuardia Airport, which he once said resembled a “third world country,” to help break ground on a $4 billion renovation project there.
The vice president cheered the state's investment in infrastructure, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo said will help the state get its "mojo" back.
Earlier this month, construction started at Terminal B under the management of the airport's new public-private partnership, LaGuardia Gateway Partners.
The multibillion dollar project will build a new 1.3 million-square-foot gate with room for a 35-gate terminal, a new parking garage and a new AirTrain connecting it to Willets Point’s Long Island Rail Road and 7 train stations.
It’s the first complete rebuild of an airport in the United States in more than 20 years, according to the governor's office.
It’s also one of the largest public-private partnerships — a move he said will help finish the project faster and more efficiently.
“Government is not the best builder, let’s leave it at that,” he said
Cuomo said the investment in building transportation and other infrastructure can bring New York back to its earlier glory.
"For many years, New York sort of lost its mojo," he said. "What made New York, New York is its ambition, is its creativity, is its capacity. New York has never said 'no.'"
Rebuilding an airport won't be easy — but the challenge represents what the state stands for, he said.
"For a while New York just stood still. This is the exact opposite," he said.
Vice President Biden and Gov. Cuomo at LaGuardia Airport. (DNAinfo/Katie Honan)
During the ceremony, Biden provided some context to his original statements on LaGuardia from 2014, which pushed Cuomo to move forward with the major overhaul.
One of his sons was traveling through LaGuardia in 2013 and saw a sign on a broken escalator noting it would be finished in a few months.
“New York City! An escalator! Will be repaired in two months!,” an incredulous Biden said at the airport.
“What the hell is going on?”
Cuomo said the remarks were the vice president’s way to highlight “in a very colorful and memorable way the need to get it done.”