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New York’s LaGuardia Airport is so bad that it’s being completely replaced

Andrew Theodorakis/Getty Images

LaGuardia. Just the word sends shudders down the spines of frequent travelers.

The airport — the smallest of three major airports that serve the New York metropolitan area — is so bad that Vice President Joe Biden famously quipped that it felt like a "third-world" facility in remarks last year. Biden joined New York governor Andrew Cuomo today to announce an expansive plan for LaGuardia that would effectively raze the entire thing and replace it with a single giant terminal — an improvement over the collection of small terminals that serves the airport today — and move its boundary further from Flushing Bay so it can grow in size. Curbed has several renders of what the completed project could look like.

The $4 billion plan appears to be a more ambitious version of a $3.6 billion plan that was announced earlier this year that would've seen the construction of a new terminal with connectors to the existing ones. Instead, the new LaGuardia's Grand Unified Terminal (my name, not theirs) will hold all the airlines that service the airport with connections to rail and ferry service. (Cuomo has previously spoken of a new train line — inexplicably not part of the New York City Subway system — that he wants to build there.)

The governor's website says that construction is expected to begin next year on the "first half" of the project and will be mostly open to the public by 2019, while final completion would come around 18 months later in 2021. In the meantime, expect JFK (which is also getting improvements as part of the deal) and Newark to become funhouses as they'll inevitably need to pick up some of LaGuardia's slack.

Given the airport's history of delays and misery, an on-time and on-budget completion seems like a stretch goal.

Correction: Though CNBC had reported that construction will take 18 months, Governor Cuomo's site says that the first half of the construction will be open to the public in 2019 after kicking off next year.