Major traffic disruptions are coming to New York’s JFK Airport

It’s going to be a miserable summer for travelers passing through New York’s busiest airport.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey — which manages and oversees John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) — issued an update Tuesday on what travelers can expect in the coming weeks and months. until airport redevelopment construction reaches peak activity.

JFK is currently undergoing a $19 billion transformation – the largest of any US airport to date. As part of that, flyers will soon enjoy a completely new look Terminal 1 And Terminal 6in addition to the recently opened new improvements in Terminal 4 And 8.

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While the highlight of the JFK redevelopment will certainly be the new and upgraded terminals, the Port Authority is also investing $3.9 billion in improving airport routes.


Rick Cotton, the agency’s executive director, said Tuesday that last point will give travelers the biggest headache. In some cases, the Port Authority expects airport traffic times to exceed 30 minutes and strongly advises travelers to seek alternative modes of transportation to and from JFK.

All of this comes as JFK is expected to welcome more than 18 million passengers this summer, a record number that could lead to congestion across the airport.

That said, the Port Authority promises that this short-term pain will bring long-term benefits to those passing through JFK.

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Here’s everything you need to know about traveling through JFK this summer — and the latest on new developments at the new terminal.

Driving to JFK will be a pain

With the start of the summer travel season just days away, you’ll want to have extra patience when traveling to or from JFK.

There will be multiple road closures and traffic pattern changes that will take effect in the coming weeks and months — so many that the Port Authority did not list them all in Tuesday’s presentation.

Travelers can expect delays on all routes and station frontages, with periodic lane closures on both highways (Beltway and Van Wyck Expressway) leading into the yard flights, reduced road capacity across the airport as well as changes to traffic patterns and detours.


One permanent change announced Tuesday is that access to the current Terminal 1 from Long Island will require a detour from the JFK Expressway.

This new route will be rolled out over the next two years (until the new Terminal 1 is completed) and travelers should add at least 15 minutes of travel time to reach this station.

Other stations will remain directly accessible from the JFK Expressway.

For other traffic changes, the Port Authority promises real-time guidance from Port Authority police officers. Travelers should expect extended traffic light wait times and possible diversions to the arrivals or departures level depending on traffic flow.

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As part of Tuesday’s announcement, the Port Authority introduced the airport operations center, which opened in 2019 and oversees the entire airport in a “war room.” The AOC has both air and ground areas – the latter will be used by the Port Authority to monitor traffic patterns.


Once completed, the $3.9 billion roadway redevelopment project will deliver more than six miles of new roadway, eight new bridges, major modifications to five existing bridges and 34 new wayfinding structures. .

Overall, the improved road structure will give drivers 30% fewer decision points and reduce merging or weaving by 30%.

3,500 parking spaces reduced

If you plan to park at JFK, you’ll have to pay attention to this. The airport has lost more than 3,500 parking spaces due to ongoing construction.

Many plots of land were affected, mainly those near the end of the road.

The Port Authority has opened new remote parking lots to help make room for more cars, but there’s one thing you should do if you plan to park at JFK: reserve a spot well in advance.

What should you do about traffic?

Besides being patient, the Port Authority has some advice for travelers traveling to JFK this summer.

The first is to use public transportation. “We have a secret weapon: AirTrain,” Cotton said.

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The agency recommends that all travelers take the AirTrain to the airport. (It stops at all terminals.)

The Long Island Rail Road and the E, J, and Z subway lines stop in Jamaica, just a 20-minute (and $8.50) AirTrain ride to and from JFK.

Alternatively, you can take the A subway line to Howard Beach station, which is six minutes (and $8.50) from the airport by AirTrain.

For those who prefer to travel to the airport by car, the Port Authority is opening a new “free and easy” lot near the Lefferts Blvd AirTrain station. The lot will provide drivers with free access to pick-up and drop-off locations, and will be connected to JFK with a free 24/7 AirTrain ride.


This land plot is expected to open for sale in early June.

New JFK terminals coming soon

All the work on the road pales in comparison to what’s coming in 2026: the opening of two brand-new JFK terminals.

The largest project is the new $9.5 billion Terminal 1, which will become one of JFK’s flagship international terminals.


The new Terminal 1 at JFK will combine the current and former sites of Terminals 1, 2 and 3 into one 2.4 million-square-foot international terminal. It will anchor south of the airport.

When completed, the new terminal will be the largest at JFK – nearly as large as the two new terminals at LaGuardia Airport (LGA) combined. The first major milestone includes new departure and arrival halls as well as the first set of 14 new gates, expected to open in 2026.


When fully completed in 2030, the new Terminal 1 will feature 23 gates, a redesigned check-in lobby and overhauled arrival spaces. (The current Terminal 1 and the recently closed Terminal 2 have 12 and 11 gates, respectively.)

The other new terminal is Terminal 6. Once completed, the $4.2 billion project will cover 1.2 million square feet and feature 10 new gates – nine of which can accommodate passengers. wide-body jet aircraft. The new terminal is being built adjacent to the existing Terminal 5, home to JetBlue Airways’ JFK hub.


Once completed, the two terminals will be connected together, giving flyers a more seamless connection experience.

When it first opens in 2026, only five of the station’s 10 gates will be ready; The remaining five projects will be completed by 2028.

Bottom line

JFK is getting a major $19 billion makeover, and with that comes some headaches while construction gets underway.

Travelers can expect more traffic and lane closures this summer, which could lead to traffic congestion on some of the busiest days of the season.

The best way to avoid all that is to use public transportation. Do whatever you can to catch the AirTrain to or from the stations.

The good news is that all of these adjustments are temporary. They’ll have headaches this summer (and next year), but at least they’re clearing the way for two beautiful new stations.

“Where we are headed is worth the wait and the inconvenience you will experience,” Cotton promised.

For more on the new JFK, be sure to check out:


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