Proposal Has Rikers Island Becoming Part of LaGuardia

A commission empaneled by the New York City Council has put forward a plan to expand LaGuardia Airport onto Rikers Island.

The proposal, one of two options put forward over the weekend by New York's Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform, came on the heels of Mayor Bill de Blasio's announcement last week that he will move to close the Rikers Island jails within 10 years.

The 413-acre island sits in the East River, practically shouting distance from LaGuardia. As such, the commission said, it could serve as the location of a much-needed third runway for LaGuardia as well as an additional terminal.

The new runway, the report says, could expand flight capacity at LaGuardia by 40%, while the terminal could accommodate 12 million passengers annually. The project would require the construction of overwater taxiways and would cost an estimated $9 billion.

Last year, LaGuardia served 30 million passengers, according to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. The airport, which is tightly constrained for space, is in the early stages of an $8 billion rebuild.

The commission recognized that even with a third runway and an extra terminal, service expansion at LaGuardia would still be challenged by New York's crowded airspace. But they noted that planned technical improvements to the U.S. air traffic control system could improve the use of air space and allow for more traffic.

The commission also presented a second proposal for Rikers' future. Under that concept, the island would be used as a center for clean energy and infrastructure facilities in New York City.