Construction News NYC Transportation

Construction to Cause Gridlock at JFK Airport This Summer

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey has announced new measures to help passengers navigate construction-related traffic delays in getting to and from John F. Kennedy International Airport’s airline terminals this summer. A record number of travelers are expected to take to the skies while the airport’s $19 billion transformation project, including an entirely new roadway network, reaches peak construction activity. As the summer travel season unfolds, additional steps to mitigate the impact of construction on traffic will be deployed as needed.

As was done at LaGuardia Airport, the Port Authority and its private partners are building new passenger facilities, parking garages and roadways while maintaining full flight operations at JFK. Building on lessons learned at LaGuardia, the Port Authority is deploying a coordinated response to manage potential traffic issues with the capability to predict, assess and quickly adapt to changing traffic conditions. Our traffic management strategy this summer includes:

Proactive traffic management:

  • Airport Operations Center staffed 24/7 to support airport-wide coordination and active traffic management, anticipating peak activity and implementing traffic mitigations in response to increased wait or queues​
  • Real-time coordination 24/7 for flight activity, traffic delays, public messaging, and mapping platform updates
  • Facilitate adjustments in roadway construction activity to meet operational needs of airport community​

Increased staffing to keep traffic and passengers moving to their destinations:

  • Frontline staff will be increased​, including Port Authority police officers and Port Authority operations staff, additional traffic managers at terminal frontages, tow trucks pre-positioned, additional taxi dispatchers and parking attendants, and customer service representatives at all terminals and across the AirTrain system

Mass transit alternatives and advance booking to speed your journey:

  • Use AirTrain JFK from Jamaica or Howard Beach to avoid traffic; Jamaica is just 20 minutes from Grand Central Terminal, Penn Station, or Atlantic Terminal via Long Island Rail Road. Easy subway connections are also available via the A/E/J/Z lines.
  • When picking up or dropping off passengers, avoid driving directly to terminals. Instead, drivers should use free waiting lots, including the new Easy Lot opening in June at the Lefferts Blvd. AirTrain station to pick up and drop off passengers​. Drivers are likely to encounter traffic if they proceed to terminals. The free AirTrain at Lefferts Blvd., an 8-minute ride to terminals, will likely result in a faster journey.
  • Given record travel volumes and construction entering a peak phase, congestion is expected, and passengers getting picked up or dropped off at terminals should allow for additional time.
  • Parking is extremely limited. To save significantly on cost and to guarantee a spot, travelers should pre-book their parking space at​.

“There’s no sugar coating the issue. Building a new airport while maintaining full flight operations won’t come without impacts to passengers driving to and from JFK Airport,” said Port Authority Chairman Kevin O’Toole. “But we believe that building what will be one of the truly great airports in the world will make these temporary traffic disruptions well worth the trouble for decades to come.”

“From the moment we unveiled plans to transform JFK Airport with a once-in-a-generation investment, our commitment has been to create the world-class international gateway this region deserves, and we are thrilled by all of the momentum,” said Port Authority Executive Director Rick Cotton. “As construction ramps up to peak levels this summer while a record number of passengers travel through the airport, we ask our passengers to use public transit, get dropped off or picked up at the free Lefferts Blvd. AirTrain station, and if you must drive yourself, then expect traffic and absolutely pre-book parking to guarantee a spot is available.  We understand there will be inconvenience for travelers this summer, but the end result will be a spectacular new airport that will be easier to reach and a pleasure to use.”

The Port Authority is launching a comprehensive paid media campaign to raise awareness of record volumes and construction-related impacts, and provide actionable recommendations for travelers, using paid search, social, digital, radio, and more.​

The $19 billion redevelopment of JFK will transform the airport into one of the world’s best global gateways.  Two new international terminals, two expanded and modernized terminals, a new ground transportation center and an entirely new airport roadway network that when complete will create a more efficient way to navigate the airport than the current “spaghetti bowl” of roads that meander confusingly across the terminal area. The new roadway will be designed to bring travelers to and from their terminals with six miles of new roads, 30 percent fewer driver decision points and far fewer signaled intersections. Construction of the $1.24 billion roadway and ground transportation center began this spring.