Planners Propose Expansion of NY-Area Airports

New York's three major airports, which are straining at the seams, need to expand, or the region could miss out on a huge economic opportunity, according to the Regional Plan Association (RPA).

An independent urban research and advocacy group, the RPA says 150 million passengers could fly in and out of John F. Kennedy, La Guardia and Newark airports by 2030, up from about 104 million last year, but only if the airports can handle the additional traffic.

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In a new report titled "Upgrading to World Class: The Future of the New York Region's Airports," the group says that without additional capacity, the region would forgo a growing number of jobs and income every year.

In 20 years, the losses could reach 125,000 jobs, $6 billion in wages and $16 billion in sales annually, it says.

The greatest opportunities for effective expansion are at Kennedy and Newark, the report says.

But its recommendations are likely to meet with resistance on several fronts, the New York Times reports.

All three of Newark's terminals would have to be partially demolished and rebuilt, and part of Jamaica Bay might have to be filled to create new runway space at Kennedy.

The expansion could cost as much as $15 billion.

The RPA also recommends investment in high-speed rail to ease congestion at the three airports.

The report was partially funded by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the airports.

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