2018-08-15 / Features

Cuomo Signs New AirTrain For LGA Into Law

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

At the signing of legislation advancing the process to build a new AirTrain connection to LaGuardia Airport, Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “AirTrain LGA will set an example of comprehensive transit infrastructure for the rest of the nation and will pay dividends for decades by connecting riders to transit hubs across the Metropolitan area, boosting growth across all airlines, and providing a more efficient means of travel for generations to come.”

The AirTrain LGA promises trips under 30 minutes between the airport and Penn Station or Grand Central Terminal, while also providing access to LaGuardia from Long Island via the Long Island Railroad (LIRR), as well as the Metropolitan Transit Authority’s (MTA) number 7 subway line with an approximate six-minute additional running time from Willets Point Station to LaGuardia.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, operator of LaGuardia Airport, is working with the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) to build a new station complex at Willets Point with transfer options between the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) or the 7 line and the Air- Train, which will run approximately every four minutes.

The law, passed on the last day of the legislative session and signed by Governor Cuomo on June 25, was introduced by Assembly Member Jeffrion Aubry (District 25) and NYS Senator Jose Peralta (District 13) and allows for the consideration of alternate routes that would lessen the potential impacts of AirTrain LGA on community residents.

Construction is expected to begin in 2020 and conclude in 2022. An environmental review, to begin later this year and completed by the end of 2019 is required.

In an open letter dated June 7 to Governor Cuomo, the Guardians of Flushing Bay and Riverkeeper said, “We understand legislation is being drafted that would provide eminent domain authority to route the AirTrain above the Flushing Bay Promenade and over Flushing Bay, the heart of historic World’s Fair Marina Park. This route would impose significant hardship on local communities and the bay, which are already shouldering the burden of LaGuardia Airport,” and called for an “immediate and full review of community and environmental impacts” from the LaGuardia AirTrain before making any determination to “construct the train, alienate parkland, or grant eminent domain authority to condemn properties.”

The June 25 legislation defines a specific corridor within which AirTrain LGA could be constructed while allowing for “alternative alignments” as part of the environmental review process and authorizes the New York State Department of Transportation to acquire parcels of land already owned by the City of New York or the MTA within the established corridor although no private property would be impacted.

According to the June 25 press release from the Office of the Governor, “(The) corridor was created in consultation with local community members and elected officials,” and further states that, “No route can be finalized before the environmental review, which will be led by the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), is completed.

“For the AirTrain LGA project, it’s not a matter of whether, but a matter of where, which will be largely determined by the local community as part of the environmental review process,” said Borough President Melinda Katz in the June 25 release. “AirTrain LGA is an important component of the massive infrastructure overhaul underway to transform LaGuardia Airport into a 21stcentury state-of-the-art, reliable airport (and) Queens thanks Governor Cuomo’s leadership in ensuring the project serves the needs of the airport, while at the same time working in partnership through the environmental review to identify and address the concerns of the impacted surrounding community,” she said.

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