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March 24, 2016

Anyone who has traveled through New York's LaGuardia Aiport (LGA) knows it desperately needs an update. The Port Authority has been working on plans for improvements to the aging airport for a few years now and as the planning continues, the tab keeps increasing. While the renovation was originally supposed to cost $4 billion, the latest estimate puts improvements at a whopping $5.3 billion, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The renovations, which are intended to help elevate the airport from what Vice President Joe Biden called comparable to a “third world country,” are supposed to be completed by 2021, with some new sections accessible by 2019. The new LGA would consist of one unified terminal with increased taxiway space to cut down on flight delays, a retail and hotel complex, and increased security.

However, according to the WSJ, the project may be changing, much to the chagrin of passengers and Port Authority Chairman John Degnan who “has become increasingly irritated with the project’s changing scope and rising costs.” The WSJ now estimates the costs of the new LGA to top $5.3 billion, a full billion over the original estimate.

Not everyone agrees with the Journal's new cost estimate, though. The Port Authority's executive director Pat Foye, wrote a letter to the paper's editors calling the $1 billion price increase "dead wrong." Foye wrote, "Lumping together spending on prior projects more than a decade old and allocations related to Port Authority overhead is a blatant attempt to artificially inflate the cost and mislead the public about the modernization of LaGuardia."

When the Port Authority's chairman and executive director are arguing in the media, it's clearly going to be a long haul for passengers waiting on needed improvements to the New York hub. (For more about the political in-fighting that makes it so hard to estimate the true cost of the renovations, check out Gothamist's reporting on the subject.)

While the budget debate rages on, work on the airport is supposed to get underway later this year. Soon, passengers making their way through the airport's notoriously crumbling infrastructure and disconnected terminals may seem some light at the end of the tunnel. Although some believe that even $4 billion may not be enough to make LGA the airport it needs to be to properly serve the millions of visitors coming to NYC every year.

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