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Cuomo Calls LaGuardia 'Un-New York,' Announces Plan To Modernize Airport

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday introduced a plan to redesign and rebuild LaGuardia Airport, replacing the cramped, outdated hub with a unified terminal that will have more than double the space.

"LaGuardia is 'un-New York,'" Cuomo said. "LaGuardia is slow, it's dated, it is a terrible front-door entrance way to New York. It is a lost opportunity. It is almost universally decried as a poor representation of an airport, let alone a New York airport."

He said the current airport is a collection of cramped terminals with high volume and low ceilings. It conveniently located, but run-down and shabby compared to other airports, CBS2's Lou Young reports.

Vice President Joe Biden, who was at the event Monday, said last year that if he blindfolded someone and took him to LaGuardia, he'd think he was in "some Third World country.''

"This is the greatest city in the world," Biden said Monday. "It requires a 21st century infrastructure."

Cuomo Calls LaGuardia 'Un-New York,' Announces Plan To Modernize Airport

The first part of the plan will begin next year and cost $4 billion, half from private funding, Cuomo said. Delta Air Lines is a partner in the new terminal.

Biden's influence was critical, Cuomo said -- approvals that would normally take years were expedited by his office.

It will be the first new airport built after the Sept. 11 attacks. The new airport will be constructed 600 feet closer to the Grand Central Parkway, creating more than double the space for flight operations.

Cuomo Calls LaGuardia 'Un-New York,' Announces Plan To Modernize Airport

"Welcome to the new LaGuardia Airport,'' Cuomo said. "This is what New Yorkers deserve and have deserved for a long time. And now we're going to get it.''

Passengers describe the airport as "a mess" and "run-down."

"It's old," said Dallas resident Sharon Mims. "I go back and forth to Honduras and the baggage claim reminded me of the baggage claim in Honduras."

Upper West Side resident Michael Warner says he has to live with what LGA offers.

"It's a necessary evil," Warner said. "I have to live with it because it's close to the city."

The governor also wants to connect the airport to mass transportation, including ferry and rail service.

The new airport is part of an ambitious plan aimed at four of the state's airports in the New York area. Stewart Airport north of the city and Republic Airport on Long Island would both get Startup New York designation, offering new and expanding businesses to operate tax free for 10 years. Also, John F. Kennedy Airport would have its architecturally distinct Saarinen building reconfigured into a hotel.

The construction will add thousands of jobs, and help grow tourism and commerce. Cuomo said it would triple the screening space, increase concessions pace and create better connections between terminals, a new roadway system and new parking garages.

(TM and © Copyright 2015 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2015 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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