The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has given the go-ahead for a new AirTrain at LaGuardia Airport.
The decision follows a months-long environmental review of the Port Authority proposal to connect LGA to the New York City Transit Subway 7 Line and the Long Island Rail Road Port Washington Branch at Mets-Willets Point.
There will also be passenger walkways connecting to the LGA Central Hall, a parking garage connector, public transportation and ground transportation facilities.
Work on the $2 billion venture pushed by Governor Andrew Cuomo and a slew of business organizations and transit leaders, could begin construction immediately, creating 3,000 union construction jobs and driving hundreds of millions of dollars in contracting opportunities to local, minority, and women-owned businesses, according to A Better Way to LGA , the group that corralled support for the venture.
“AirTrain LaGuardia’s benefits will continue to bolster our economy for decades to come by creating a mass rail transit link to the airport that will provide a fast and dependable ride to and from Midtown Manhattan of 30 minutes or less,” said the A Better Way to LGA consortium, that includes REBNY, New York Building Congress and the Building & Construction Trades Council.
Governor Andrew Cuomo said, “The new LaGuardia Airport—the first new airport in the United States in over 25 years and the front door to New York—deserves a reliable, efficient, and affordable transit connector worthy of its destination.
“With the Federal Aviation Administration’s approval today of the LaGuardia AirTrain, that’s exactly what New Yorkers will get. This is the culmination of years of advocacy by this administration and a key moment in our efforts to rebuild New York’s infrastructure for the future.
“As we come out of the COVID crisis, our state and our country have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to invest in a resilient, transformative, and interconnected future, and today’s announcement is a testament to our ‘all aboard’ commitment to seizing it, in partnership with the Biden administration and Secretary Buttigieg.”
REBNY President James Whelan also hailed the news. “REBNY applauds Governor Cuomo for his leadership on advancing the LaGuardia AirTrain and thanks the Biden Administration for approving this plan and demonstrating its commitment to making infrastructure a national priority.
“As New York continues to forward on the path to recovery, ongoing investment in key infrastructure projects such as the LaGuardia AirTrain will play a critical role in creating good jobs for New Yorkers, expanding reliable and affordable mass transit options, and strengthening our local and regional economies.”
The FAA held two virtual public workshops and three virtual public hearings in September 2020 on the draft environmental review. The meetings had a combined viewership of over 18,000 people, and the public provided over 4,200 comments.
Eighteen different federal, state and local agencies provided input throughout the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) process based on their expertise and authorities.
The FAA prepared the environmental review because the Port Authority plans to request funding for the AirTrain through the Passenger Facility Charge program. The program allows for the collection of fees added to passenger tickets. Those proceeds can be used on certain qualifying airport projects, subject to FAA approval.