MacArthur Airport Breaks Ground on New Transportation Center

Another major step in the modernization of MacArthur Airport broke ground earlier this month. When CISLeads last examined this corner of Suffolk County, MacArthur commenced a remodel of the West Terminal apron—just one of several stages of an ongoing facelift for the location, bringing decades-awaited upgrades in some cases. In early October, the next major step forward was the commencement of MacArthur’s new Ground Transportation Center, which will consolidate every facet of ground transportation to and from the airport. (See CIS’s projects for GC, Plumbing and Electric and also the HVAC bid.)

Shelly LaRose-Arken, the airport aviation commissioner, recognized this update as sorely needed. “It’s been more than 20 years since the airport’s passenger facilities have been upgraded,” she said, recognizing the unique need to prioritize ground travel for visitors and residents alike. 

What Are the Specifics of the New Ground Transportation Center?

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Governor Andrew Cuomo affirmed the $8.4 million project, saying, “This new one-stop facility at Long Island MacArthur Airport will give businesses and visitors to the New York City and Long Island regions an improved and streamlined travel experience.” 

Presently, many parts of the ground travel experience at MacArthur sit in different areas. Taxis are currently located near the baggage claim. The Suffolk County Bus Stop sits in a somewhat unsafe space in the main terminal roadway’s outer lane. These services and countless others, including car rental kiosks and areas for every form of mass transit (buses, taxis, shuttles, and more) are essential. Personal vehicle pickup will also be possible from here. 

The 12,000 square foot facility, built from a renovated existing building, will also include lounge areas and a covered pedestrian walkway. LaRose-Arken also reported that the new transportation center’s aesthetic would “reflect the feel of Long Island,” with modern fixtures and a copper, blue, and sand color scheme throughout. 

Funding, Construction Jobs, and the Next Ten Months

The project is expected to complete by the end of Summer in 2021. With regard to funding, Islip’s Supervisor Carpenter has stated that “This major renovation project comes at no expense to local taxpayers and provides many benefits to our airport and community.” It was also reported that there have been over $50 million in renovation projects completed and ongoing over the last four years, and this guarantee has held true. 

While MacArthur Airport is continually seeking additional grants, part of their funding so far is coming from generated revenue from regular operations, as well as a $650k grant from Empire State Development and another $800k in grant money from New York State aviation.

Through the coming 10 months, the new transportation center will call for laborers’ skilled hands to create a functional hub, with vehicles and pedestrians in constant transit within and out of the airport altogether. The relatively short timeline largely comes from the decision to work with an existing structure rather than build something wholly new. 

One of the major logistical challenges will be to move multiple services — car rentals, taxis and Ubers, bus stop, shuttle stops — into a centralized location without creating congestion and upsetting traffic flow through that area. The renovation will also need to meet the roomy, modern aesthetic of other updates at McArthur, aiming to be pleasing to the eye while also facilitating the need for greater social distance. 

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