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New Details Emerge on LaGuardia Airport Revamp

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The renovation is moving forward

UPDATE: A Port Authority spokesperson reached out with a correction: Previous reports have stated that the design and construction of the new LaGuardia will cost $4 billion (through a public-private partnership), and the $1 billion figure reported today is for costs unrelated to design and construction, including $600 million that was previously spent on "planning and prior projects" that go back as far as a decade. Additionally, the PA board will vote on the public-private partnership intended to fund the project in the near future. We've updated our headline accordingly; Curbed regrets the error.

The cost for LaGuardia Airport's much-needed renovation just keeps rising. Early reports estimated that the beleaguered airport's makeover—which includes building a centralized departures and arrivals terminal, along with infrastructure changes—would cost around $4 billion to complete. But today, the Wall Street Journal reports that the price tag has risen to a whopping $5.3 billion.

Why the increase? Ostensibly, it's due to "changes requested by the airlines, federal security officials and the consortium of companies chosen to build the terminal," per the WSJ. These include increases in staffing, a slight increase in the projected cost of the central terminal, and—bafflingly—$190 million for "external consultants," which the WSJ notes is nearly double the initial estimate.

And because no major infrastructure project can happen in New York City without officials bickering over it, these increases are leading to "growing tension" within the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which is responsible for the airport. PA chairman John Degnan said that "every project needs to be balanced against the most compelling needs," referring to the organization's other big-deal projects—revamping the hellscape that is Port Authority Bus Terminal, and building tunnels beneath the Hudson River. Others told the WSJ that some officials are driving the price up as a "political tactic ahead of negotiations over other big projects," which, sure.

One thing is for sure: This wouldn't be the first time a PA project comes in wildly over budget, leading to rancor within the agency's ranks. (There's a glorious boondoggle in Lower Manhattan that stands as a shining example of that.)