Two separate recent promises from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo could mean huge improvements to the tourism infrastructure in the Empire State.
The larger of these pledges is a $10-billion plan to upgrade John F. Kennedy International Airport; the smaller is $200 million that will go to a 750-mile hiking and biking trail along the Hudson River and stretching from Manhattan to Albany and over to Buffalo.
Neither is set in stone, but both could happen over the next 10 years with appropriate funding.
At JFK, according to an article in USA Today, the upgrade would be a response to growing demand; various reports indicate the airport currently serves 60 million passengers a year, but the number could reach 100 million passengers by 2050. The same story indicated upgrade projects would include wider access highways, additional public transportation, terminal expansion, and covered links between terminals so passengers don’t have to go outside when changing flights.
Cuomo’s JFK overhaul plan also includes a budget for facial recognition technology at security checkpoints.
Along the Hudson, the Empire State Trail would become the nation’s largest multi-use trail network. An article on Curbed New York said the trail would connect the unfinished Erie Canalway, which extends from Albany to Buffalo, and the Hudson River Greenway, which runs 11 miles up the Hudson along Manhattan’s west side and then veers into the Hudson River Valley.
All told, these existing trails represent about 400 miles. Cuomo’s plan would build the remaining 350 miles in three phases, ending in or around 2020. The state already owns most of the land for the new sections, and much of the $200-million price tag would cover construction costs.
What happens next? The Associated Press reported that the Empire State Trail plan would need legislative approval, starting with about $53 million this year. As for the JFK plan, it’s only a fantasy until the money materializes. Cuomo said he expects the bulk of the project to come from private funding, with additional dollars from the State Department of Transportation and other entities.
Matt Villano is a freelance writer and editor based in Healdsburg, California. In nearly 20 years as a full-time freelancer, he has covered travel for publications including TIME, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Sunset, Backpacker, Entrepreneur, and more. He contributes to the Expedia Viewfinder blog and writes a monthly food column for Islands magazine. Villano also serves on the board of the Family Travel Association and blogs about family travel at Wandering Pod. Learn more about him at Whalehead.com.