Plan for LaGuardia AirTrain inches forward with $55M lift from Port Authority

Posted On Fri, November 17, 2017 By

Posted On Fri, November 17, 2017 By In Policy

Rendering of LaGuardia Airport via Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office

The Port Authority on Thursday approved $55 million in funding for the second phase of planning for an AirTrain to LaGuardia airport, a project first announced nearly three years ago. The authority previously allocated $20 million for the AirTrain which would run between Mets-Willets Point and the airport, one part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to revamp LaGuardia. According to the Daily News, the total $75 million will go towards technical planning, design work and developing an environmental impact report. Despite this new investment, the AirTrain still has no final cost estimate or a completed study, but previous estimates price the project at $1 billion. 

In more than two years since Cuomo announced his plan to transform LaGuardia Airport, the cost has swelled from $4 billion to $8 billion. And despite holding a groundbreaking ceremony at the airport in June of 2016, the AirTrain project has made little progress.

With the additional funding from the Port Authority, the project is entering its second phase of planning. The director of the authority, Rick Cotton, told the Daily News that phase two includes completing an analysis.

“The point of phase two planning is to finish the analysis and to consider the pros and cons of the alignment and to get into all the issues that we’re raising,” Cotton said. “We’re working on that. All points of view will be considered, that’s the point of the planning process.”

LaGuardia is the only major airport on the East Coast without a rail connection, with 86 percent of its travelers using cars to access it. Supporters of the project say it could bring passengers from Midtown on the No. 7 train to Mets-Willets Point, passing the airport, and then let travelers catch the AirTrain at the subway station to the airport, all under 30 minutes.

Critics of the project are not as confident in the time estimates. Yonah Freemark, a transportation blogger, told amNY in an email, that the project is “poorly designed.” He added, “…it will carry passengers in the wrong direction, doing little to reduce travel times, and fail to connect them to most subway lines and commuter rail routes. Moreover, it serves a small constituency when the vast majority of New Yorkers simply want better bus and subway service.”

[Via NY Daily News]


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