AmazingMiles Logo
In Category:

Expect Major Traffic Disruptions at New York JFK This Peak Summer Season

am (4)

Travelers passing through New York’s busiest airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK), are in for a challenging summer. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which manages JFK, recently provided an update on what travelers can expect in the coming weeks and months as the airport’s redevelopment construction approaches peak activity.

Update from the Port Authority

JFK is currently undergoing a massive $19 billion transformation — the largest of any U.S. airport to date. This redevelopment includes the construction of brand-new Terminal 1 and Terminal 6, in addition to recently opened improvements in Terminals 4 and 8. The new terminals promise to enhance the travel experience significantly once completed.

In addition to terminal upgrades, the Port Authority is investing $3.9 billion in revamped airport roadways, which will cause significant disruptions for travelers.

Impact on Travelers

Rick Cotton, executive director of the Port Authority, warned travelers to expect substantial traffic delays this summer. With JFK projected to welcome over 18 million passengers during the peak season, the increased volume combined with ongoing construction could lead to gridlock.

Travelers are strongly advised to seek alternative transportation methods to get to and from JFK to avoid lengthy delays.

Traffic and Roadway Challenges

The roadway improvements are a critical component of the redevelopment, but they will cause significant disruptions. The Port Authority expects traffic on airport roadways to exceed 30 minutes in some cases. Several road closures and traffic pattern changes will take effect in the coming weeks and months.

Key Changes:

  • Terminal Roadways and Frontages: Delays expected at all terminal roadways.
  • Highway Lane Closures: Periodic closures on the Belt Parkway and Van Wyck Expressway.
  • Detours and Reduced Capacity: Various detours and reduced roadway capacity throughout the airport.

Travelers accessing Terminal 1 from Long Island will need to take a detour from the JFK Expressway, adding at least 15 minutes to their travel time. This detour will be in place for the next two years until the new Terminal 1 is complete.

Real-Time Traffic Management

To manage the increased traffic, the Port Authority will use its airport operations center (AOC), which oversees the entire airport. Real-time instructions will be provided by Port Authority police officers to help mitigate delays. Travelers should be prepared for extended holds at traffic lights and possible redirection depending on traffic flow.

Parking Issues

Parking at JFK will also be challenging due to the loss of 3,500 parking spots caused by the construction. Several lots near the terminal roadways have been affected. To accommodate more vehicles, the Port Authority has opened new remote parking lots.

Advice for Travelers:

  • Pre-Book Parking: Secure a parking spot well in advance.
  • Use Remote Lots: Consider parking in remote lots and taking the AirTrain to the terminal.

Alternative Transportation Options

The Port Authority strongly recommends using mass transit to reach JFK. The AirTrain, which stops at all terminals, is highlighted as a key alternative.

Mass Transit Options:

  • Long Island Rail Road and Subway Lines: The LIRR and E, J, and Z subway lines stop at Jamaica, just a 20-minute (and $8.50) AirTrain ride from JFK.
  • A Subway Line: Stops at Howard Beach station, which is a six-minute (and $8.50) AirTrain ride from the airport.

For those driving to the airport, a new “free and easy” lot near the Lefferts Blvd AirTrain station will open in early June. This lot offers free access for drop-offs and pickups and a free 24/7 AirTrain ride to JFK.

Future Developments

While the current disruptions are significant, the future improvements at JFK promise to enhance the travel experience. The $9.5 billion new Terminal 1 will become one of JFK’s flagship international terminals, combining the current and former sites of terminals 1, 2, and 3 into a massive, 2.4 million-square-foot facility.

The first phase, including the new arrivals and departures hall and the first set of 14 new gates, is expected to open in 2026. When fully completed in 2030, Terminal 1 will feature 23 gates, a redesigned check-in hall, and overhauled arrival spaces.

Terminal 6, a $4.2 billion project, will span 1.2 million square feet and offer 10 new gates. The new terminal, adjacent to Terminal 5 (JetBlue’s hub), will provide a seamless connecting experience once fully operational in 2028.

Final Thoughts

As JFK undergoes this major transformation, travelers should prepare for significant traffic disruptions and plan accordingly. Using public transportation, particularly the AirTrain, can help mitigate some of the delays. Despite the temporary inconveniences, the long-term benefits of the new and improved terminals will make traveling through JFK much more pleasant in the future.

Only thing that's left is for you to subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated

Scroll to Top